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al |_-.:. :.-.-:: / / books . qooqle . com/| 

ISA- a f. (7,5 

Jjarbarti (follcgr ittorarg 



[Clan of 1S93J I7--S 

JMrUarO Collrjc libra™ 



(Clues of 1893) 






^rz.2.y . /7.v 



JAN. 22, 1012 




J\T was my custom for several years to 
tell my children every Friday night a 
voyage, told in the first person, but, if 
the truth must come out, simply 
"lifted," or at best adapted from all 
the imaginary voyages I could come across. I led the 
youngsters to understand that I had gone through one 
hundred voyages in my time, but that I should never be 
able to tell them my hundredth voyage, for if I told 
that I should burst. Sure enough I got to the ninety- 
ninth voyage, and on the following Friday there was, of 
course, no narrative forthcoming. But the following 
week a deputation from the young ones begged for my 
hundredth voyage, whatever the consequences. 

I have thought that if my poor recital of these 
imaginary voyages could rouse interest and curiosity to 
such an unfiHal pitch among my own children the 
originals from which I derived them might be equally 
attractive to other children ; and I have brought together 

vi Preface 

in the present volume the most memorable of those 
flights of the imagination which form almost as marked 
a class of popular literature as fairy tales themselves. It 
seems as natural to build ships, as to build castles, in the 
air ; and there can be but few children of any age that 
have not at one time or another seen themselves trans- 
ported to lands where the ordinary Laws of Mechanics 
or Physiology do not apply, and things throw off the 
causal nexus of common life. But though we fly our 
kite of imagination, it is always secured, if only by a 
thread, to earthly fact, and in the wildest flights of 
imaginary voyagers there is always some germ of geo- 
graphic truth. 

So natural is this tendency towards these voyages to 
the Land of Fancy that we find specimens of them in 
almost all lands, and it has been my aim in the present 
collection to bring characteristic specimens from as many 
and as diverse quarters as my space permitted. Hellas 
gives us TJie Argonauts ; the Celts tell The Voyage of 
Maelduin, which attracted Tennyson's notice. Sindbad 
would have perhaps been the appropriate representative 
of Arabia, but one hesitates to divorce him from the 
" Nights," and Mr. Batten had treated him in his appro- 
priate connection. So I have selected Hasan of Bassorah 
and his Voyage to the Islands of Wak- Wak to represent 

Preface vii 

Arabia. Curiously enough, the greatest voyagers of all, 
the Norsemen, seemingly found little temptation to let 
their imagination play about their business concerns, and 
in order to obtain a representative Wonder Voyage from 
the most wonderful voyagers of medieval times, I have 
had to combine two minor sagas which can be classed 
under that genre. 

To be at all effective, a Wonder Voyage requires a 
certain amount of sea-room. One does not get one's sea 
legs, so to speak, till a sheet or two of print has been let 
loose. Hence I have not been able to include more 
than four or five voyages in the present volume, but 
they will surely serve as Winter Nights' Tales. They 
should be read when the stormy winds do blow, do blow. 

The story of The Argonauts had been told so well by 
Kingsley that I dared not commit the sacrilege of pro- 
ducing a rival version. I have to thank Messrs. Mac- 
millan for permitting me to utilise his " Heroes." Mr. 
Alfred Nutt with his usual kindness has provided me 
with a version of Maelduin, in which he has had per- 
mission from Dr. Whitley Stokes to use his translation 
which appeared in the Revue Celtique. Hasan I have 
retold in an abridged form, using as my "originals" the 
three translations from the Arabic, none of which were 
sufficiently simple to suit the audience for whom I 

viii Preface 

intended his Adventures. For my Icelandic I have had 
to resort to the friendly offices of the Rev. J. Sephton, 
who has been good enough to translate the Eric Saga 
for this volume, while I have combined with it an adapta- 
tion of Thorkills " Voyage to the World Beyond the 
Ocean. " from Saxo Grammaticus, utilising for that purpose 
Mr. Elton's version published by the Folk-Lore Society. 
To all these gentlemen I hereby record my grateful 

As the world grows old and grey, and men become 
everywhere alike, the value of the imagination for 
ornament and for delight will become more and more 
appreciated, even in education. The training and the 
practice of the imagination will become ever increasingly 
important as life gets more neutral tinted. Let therefore 
our children be early trained to adventurous voyages on 

the Sea of Imagination. 




The Argonauts i 

The Voyage of Maelduin 87 

Hasan of Bassorah 123 

The Journeyings of Thorkill and of Eric the Far- 
Travelled 181 

Notes 211 



Thetis saves the Argonauts from Scylla 

Title Page .... 

Phrixus and Helle 

JEson and Jason 

Chiron's Farewell to the Argonauts 

The Chase of the Harpies . 

The Crop of the Dragon's Teeth 

Orpheus and Medea charm the Snake 

Circe and Medea 

The Beguiling of Talus 

The Giant Ants 

The Monster of the Feats 

The Red Hot Swine . 

The Mill of Grudging 

The Queen of the Magic Clew . 

The Great Bird 

The Persian sews up Hasan 

Tlte Flight of the Swan Maidens 






to /ace 54 

to /ace 6 1 

. 8l 


• 99 

to /ace I04 

to /ace II4 


• 131 
to /ace 140 

xii List of Illustrations 


Hasans Wife carries off her Children . . . .149 

The Shaykh Abu al-Ruu-aysh . . . .156 

The King and Manar al-Sana . ..... 167 

Hasan rcjcin> his Wife .... t*f*ce 171 

S'r.auahi on the Jar. ... ... .175 

Thvrkill and the Serpent .192 

The Horr.-sr.cuted Giants . .196 

S .•«/ We«-ter\ M\:u Ltd. 

Tkt s'LTZ.-fark'-f / •var.'j/jtf.v i*u re en «Ak.v.:* ry 
zit Swan EiXwT*.:. Ln -»a. :n.. C.Mianv 


The Argonauts 


How the Centaur Trained the Heroes on Pelion 

J]OW I have a tale of heroes who sailed 
away into a distant land, to win them- 
selves renown for ever, in the adventure 
of the Golden Fleece. 

And what was that Golden Fleece? 
The old Hellens said that it hung in Colchis, which 
we call the Circassian coast, nailed to a beech-tree in 
the War-god's wood ; and that it was the fleece of 
the wondrous ram who bore Phrixus and Helle across 
the Euxine sea. For Phrixus and Helle were the 
children of the cloud-nymph, and of Athamas the Minuan 
king. And when a famine came upon the land, their 
cruel stepmother Ino wished to kill them, that her own 
children might reign, and said that they must be sacri- 
ficed on an altar, to turn away the anger of the gods. 
So the poor children were brought to the altar, and the 
priest stood ready with his knife, when out of the clouds 
came the Golden Ram, and took them on his back, and 

The Argonauts 

vanished. Then madness came upon that foolish king, 
Athamas, and ruin upon Ino and her children. For 
Athamas killed one of them in his fury, and Ino fled from 

him with the other in her arms, and leaped from a cliff 
into the sea, and was changed into a dolphin, such as 
you have seen, which wanders over the waves for ever 
sighing, with its little one clasped to its breast. 

But the people drove out King Athamas, because he 
had killed his child ; and he roamed about in his misery, 
till he came to the Oracle in Delphi. And the Oracle 

4 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

told him that he must wander for his sin, till the wild 
beasts should feast him as their guest. So he went on 
in hunger and sorrow for many a weary day, till he saw 
a pack of wolves. The wolves were tearing a sheep ; 
but when they saw Athamas they fled, and left the sheep 
for him, and he ate of it ; and then he knew that the 
oracle was fulfilled at last. So he wandered no more ; 
but settled, and built a town, and became a king again. 

But the ram carried the two children far away over 
land and sea, till he came to the Thracian Chersonese, 
and there Helle fell into the sea. So those narrow 
straits are called " Hellespont," after her ; and they bear 
that name until this day. 

Then the ram flew on with Phrixus to the north-east 
across the sea which we call the Black Sea now ; but the 
Hellens called it Euxine. And at last, they say, he 
stopped at Colchis, on the steep Circassian coast ; and 
there Phrixus married Chalciope, the daughter of Aietes 
the king ; and offered the ram in sacrifice ; and Aietes 
nailed the ram's fleece to a beech, in the grove of Ares 
the War-god. 

And after a while Phrixus died, and was buried, but his 
spirit had no rest ; for he was buried far from his native 
land, and the pleasant hills of Hellas. So he came in 
dreams to the heroes of the Minuai, and called sadly by 
their beds, "Come and set my spirit free, that I may go 

home to my fathers and to my kinsfolk, and the pleasant 

Minuan land." 

And they asked, " How shall we set your spirit free ? " 
"You must sail over the sea to Colchis, and bring 

The Argonauts 5 

home the golden fleece ; and then my spirit will come 
back with it, and I shall sleep with my fathers and have 

He came thus, and called to them often ; but when 
they woke they looked at each other, and said : " Who 
dare sail to Colchis, or bring home the golden fleece ? " 
And in all the country none was brave enough to try it ; 
for the man and the time were not come. 

Phrixus had a cousin called yEson, who was king in 
Iolcos by the sea. There he ruled over the rich Minuan 
heroes, as Athamas his uncle ruled in Boeotia ; and, like 
Athamas, he was an unhappy man. For he had a step- 
brother named Pelias, of whom some said that he was a 
nymph's son, and there were dark and sad tales about his 
birth. When he was a babe he was cast out on the 
mountains, and a wild mare came by and kicked him. 
But a shepherd passing found the baby, with its face all 
blackened by the blow ; and took him home, and called 
him Pelias, because his face was bruised and black. And 
he grew up fierce and lawless, and did many a fearful 
deed ; and at last he drove out ^Eson his step-brother, 
and then his own brother Neleus, and took the kingdom 
to himself, and ruled over the rich Minuan heroes, in 
Iolcos by the sea. 

And iEson, when he was driven out, went sadly away 
out of the town, leading his little son by the hand ; and 
he said to himself, " I must hide the child in the moun- 
tains ; or Pelias will surely kill him because he is the 

So he went up from the sea across the valley, through 

6 The Book of JFonder Voyages 

the vineyards and the olive groves, and across the 
torrent of Anauros, toward Pelion the ancient mountain. 
whose brows are white with snow. 

He went up and up into the mountain, over marsh, 
and crag, and down, till the boy was tired and footsore, 
and /Eson had to bear him in his arms, till he came to 
the mouth of a lonely cave, at the foot of a mighty cliff. 

Above the cliff the snow-wreaths hung, dripping and 

The Argonauts 7 

cracking in the sun ; but at its foot around the caves 
mouth grew all fair flowers and herbs, as if in a garden, 
ranged in order, each sort by itself. There they grew 
gaily in the sunshine, and the spray of the torrent from 
above ; while from the cave came the sound of music, 
and a mans voice singing to the harp. 

Then ^Eson put down the lad, and whispered : 

" Fear not, but go in, and whomsoever you shall find, 
lay your hands upon his knees and say, ' In the name of 
Zeus, the father of gods and men, I am your guest from 
this day forth.' " 

Then the lad went in without trembling, for he too 
was a hero's son ; but when be was within, he stopped in 
wonder to listen to that magic song. 

And there he saw the singer lying upon bear-skins 
and fragrant boughs : Chiron, the ancient centaur, the 
wisest of all things beneath the sky. Down to the waist 
he was a man, but below he was a noble horse ; his 
white hair rolled down over his broad shoulders, and his 
white beard over his broad brown chest ; and his eyes 
were wise and mild, and his forehead like a mountain- 

And in his hands he held a harp of gold, and struck it 
with a golden key ; and as he struck, he sang till his 
eyes glittered, and filled all the cave with light. 

And he sang of the birth of Time, and of the heavens 
and the dancing stars ; and of the ocean, and the ether, 
and the fire, and the shaping of the wondrous earth. 
And he sang of the treasures of the hills, and the hidden 
jewels of the mine, and the veins of fire and metal, and 

8 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

the virtues of all healing herbs, and of the speech of 
birds, and of prophecy, and of hidden things to come. 

Then he sang of health, and strength, and manhood, 
and a valiant heart ; and of music, and hunting, and 
wrestling, and all the games which heroes love ; and of 
travel, and wars, and sieges, and a noble death in fight ; 
and then he sang of peace and plenty, and of equal 
justice in the land ; and as he sang the boy listened 
wide-eyed, and forgot his errand in the song. 

And at the last old Chiron was silent, and called the 
lad with a soft voice. 

And the lad ran trembling to him, and would have 
laid his hands upon his knees ; but Chiron smiled, and 
said, "Call hither your father iEson, for I know you, 
and all that has befallen, and saw you both afar in the 
valley, even before you left the town." 

Then ^Eson came in sadly, and Chiron asked him, 
" Why earnest you not yourself to me, iEson the 
^Eolid ? " 

And ^Eson said : 

" I thought, Chiron will pity the lad if he sees him 
come alone ; and I wished to try whether he was 
fearless, and dare venture like a hero's son. But now I 
entreat you by Father Zeus, let the boy be your guest 
till better times, and train him among the sons of the 
heroes, that he may avenge his fathers house." 

Then Chiron smiled, and drew the lad to him, and 
laid his hand upon his golden locks, and said, " Are you 
afraid of my horse's hoofs, fair boy, or will you be my 
pupil from this day ? " 

The Argonauts 9 

" I would gladly have horse's hoofs like you, if I could 
sing such songs as yours." 

And Chiron laughed, and said, "Sit here by me till 
sundown, wheji your playfellows will come home, and 
you shall learn like them to be a king, worthy to rule 
over gallant men." 

Then he turned to ^Eson, and said, "Go back in 
peace, and bend before the storm like a prudent man. 
This boy shall not cross the Anauros again, till he has 
become a glory to you and to the house of ^Eolus." 

And ^Eson wept over his son and went away ; but the 
boy did not weep, so full was his fancy of that strange 
cave, and the centaur, and his song, and the playfellows 
whom he was to see. 

Then Chiron put the lyre into his hands, and taught 
how how to play it, till the sun sank low behind the cliff, 
and a shout was heard outside. 

And then in came the sons of the heroes, ^Eneas, and 
Hercules, and Peleus, and many another mighty name. 

And great Chiron leapt up joyfully, and his hoofs 
made the cave resound, as they shouted, " Come out, 
Father Chiron ; come out and see our game." And one 
cried, " I have killed two deer ; " and another, " I took a 
wild cat among the crags ; " and Hercules dragged a 
wild goat after him by its horns, for he was as huge as a 
mountain crag ; and Caeneus carried a bear-cub under 
each arm, and laughed when they scratched and bit, for 
neither tooth nor steel could wound him. 

And Chiron praised them all, each according to his 

io The Book of Wonder Voyages 

Only one walked apart and silent, .'Esculapius, the too- 
wise child, with his bosom full of herbs and flowers, and 
round his wrist a spotted snake ; he came with downcast 
eyes to Chiron, and whispered how he had watched the 
snake cast its old skin, and grow young again before his 
eyes, and how he had gone down into a village in the 
vale, and cured a dying man with a herb which he had 
seen a sick goat eat. 

And Chiron smiled, and said, "To each Athend and 
Apollo give some gift, and each is worthy in his place ; 
but to this child they have given an honour beyond all 
honours, to cure while others kill." 

Then the lads brought in wood, and split it, and lighted 
a blazing fire ; and others skinned the deer and quartered 
them, and set them to roast before the fire ; and while 
the venison was cooking they bathed in the snow-torrent, 
and washed away the dust and sweat. 

And then all ate till they could eat no more (for they 
had tasted nothing since the dawn), and drank of the 
clear spring water, for wine is not fit for growing lads. 
And when the remnants were put away, they all lay 
down upon the skins and leaves about the fire, and each 
took the lyre in turn, and sang and played with all his 

And after a while they all went out to a plot of grass 
at the cave's mouth, and there they boxed, and ran, and 
wrestled, and laughed till the stones fell from the cliffs. 

Then Chiron took his lyre, and all the lads joined 
hands ; and as he played, they danced to his measure, in 
and out, and round and round. There they danced hand 

The Argonauts 1 1 

in hand, till the night fell over land and sea, while the 
black glen shone with their broad white limbs and the 
gleam of their golden hair. 

And the lad danced with them, delighted, and then 
slept a wholesome sleep, upon fragrant leaves of bay, 
and myrtle, and marjoram, and flowers of thyme ; and 
rose at the dawn, and bathed in the torrent, and became 
a schoolfellow to the heroes' sons, and forgot Iolcos, and 
his father, and all his former life. But he grew strong, 
and brave and cunning, upon the pleasant downs of 
Pelion, in the keen hungry mountain air And he learnt 
to wrestle, and to box, and to hunt, and to play upon the 
harp ; and next he learnt to ride, for old Chiron used to 
mount him on his back ; and he learnt the virtues of all 
herbs, and how to cure all wounds ; and Chiron called 
him Jason the healer, and that is his name until this 


How Jason Lost his Sandal in Anauros 

jND ten years came and went, and Jason 
was grown to be a mighty man. Some 
of his fellows were gone, and some were 
growing up by his side. .^Esculapius was 
gone into Peloponnese to work his won- 
drous cures on men ; and some say he used to raise the 
dead to life. And Hercules was gone to Thebes to fulfil 
those famous labours which have become a proverb 
among men. And Peleus had married a sea-nymph, and 
his wedding is famous to this day. And ^neas was 
gone home to Troy, and many a noble tale you will read 
of him, and of all the other gallant heroes, the scholars of 
Chiron the just. And it happened on a day that Jason 
stood on the mountain, and looked north and south and 
east and west ; and Chiron stood by him and watched 
him, for he knew that the time was come. 

And Jason looked and saw the plains of Thessaly, 
where the Lapithai breed their horses ; and the lake of 
Boibe, and the stream which runs northward to Peneus 
and Tempe ; and he looked north, and saw the mountain 
wall which guards the Magnesian shore ; Olympus, the 

The Argonauts 13 

seat of the Immortals, and Ossa, and Pelion, where he 
stood. Then he looked east and saw the bright blue sea, 
which stretched away for ever toward the dawn. Then 
he looked south, and saw a pleasant land, with white- 
walled towns and farms, nestling along the shore of a 
land-locked bay, while the smoke rose blue among the 
trees ; and he knew it for the bay of Pagasai, and the 
rich lowlands of Haemonia, and Iolcos by the sea. 

Then he sighed, and asked, " Is it true what the heroes 
tell me — that I am heir of that fair land ? " 

" And what good would it be to you, Jason, if you were 
heir of that fair land ? " 

" I would take it and keep it." 

" A strong man has taken it and kept it long. Are 
you stronger than Pelias the terrible ? " 

" I can try my strength with his," said Jason ; but 
Chiron sighed, and said : 

" You have many a danger to go through before you 
rule in Iolcos by the sea : many a danger and many a 
woe ; and strange troubles in strange lands, such as man 
never saw before." 

" The happier I," said Jason, " to see what man never 
saw before." 

And Chiron sighed again, and said, "The eaglet must 
leave the nest when it is fledged. Will you go to Iolcos 
by the sea ? Then promise me two things before you 

Jason promised, and Chiron answered, " Speak harshly 

to no soul whom you may meet, and stand by the word 

which you shall speak." 

1 4 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

Jason wondered why Chiron asked this of him ; but 
he knew that the Centaur was a prophet, and saw things 
long before they came. So he promised, and leapt down 
the mountain, to take his fortune like a man. 

He went down through the arbutus thickets, and 
across the downs of thyme, till he came to the vineyard 
walls, and the pomegranates and the olives in the glen ; 
and among the olives roared Anauros, all foaming with a 
summer flood. 

And on the bank of Anauros sat a woman, all wrinkled, 
grey, and old ; her head shook palsied on her breast, and 
her hands shook palsied on her knees ; and when she 
saw Jason, she spoke whining, "Who will carry me 
across the flood ? " 

Jason was bold and hasty, and was just going to leap 
into the flood : and yet he thought twice before he leapt, 
so loud roared the torrent down, all brown from the 
mountain rains, and silver-veined with melting snow ; 
while underneath he could hear the boulders rumbling 
like the tramp of horsemen or the roll of wheels, as they 
ground along the narrow channel, and shook the rocks 
on which he stood. 

But the old woman whined all the more, " I am weak 
and old, fair youth. For Hera's sake, carry me over the 

And Jason was going to answer her scornfully, when 
Chiron's words came to his mind. 

So he said, " For Hera's sake, the Queen of the Im- 
mortals on Olympus, I will carry you over the torrent, 
unless we both are drowned midway." 

The Argonauts 15 

Then the old dame leapt upon his back as nimbly as a 
goat ; and Jason staggered in, wondering ; and the first 
step was up to his knees. 

The first step was up to his knees, and the second 
step was up to his waist ; and the stones rolled about his 
feet, and his feet slipped about the stones ; so he went on 
staggering and panting, while the old woman cried from 
off his back : 

" Fool, you have wet my mantle ! Do you make game 
of poor old souls like me ? " 

Jason had half a mind to drop her, and let her get 
through the torrent by herself; but Chiron's words were 
in his mind, and he said only, " Patience, mother ; the 
best horse may stumble some day." 

At last he staggered to the shore, and set her down 
upon the bank ; and a strong man he needed to have 
been, or that wild water he never would have crossed. 

He lay panting a while upon the bank, and then leapt 
up to go upon his journey ; but he cast one look at the 
old woman, for he thought, " She should thank me once 
at least." 

And as he looked, she grew fairer than all women, and 
taller than all men on earth ; and her garments shone 
like the summer sea, and her jewels like the stars of 
heaven ; and over her forehead was a veil, woven of the 
golden clouds of sunset ; and through the veil she looked 
down on him, with great soft heifers eyes ; with great 
eyes, mild and awful, which filled all the glen with light. 

And Jason fell upon his knees, and hid his face between 
his hands. 

1 6 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

And she spoke, " I am the Queen of Olympus, Hera 
the wife of Zeus. As thou hast done to me, so will I do 
to thee. Call on me in the hour of need, and try if the 
Immortals can forget." 

And when Jason looked up, she rose from off the 
earth, like a pillar of tall white cloud, and floated away 
across the mountain peaks, towards Olympus the holy 

Then a great fear fell on Jason : but after a while he 
grew light of heart ; and he blessed old Chiron, and said, 
41 Surely the Centaur is a prophet, and guessed what 
would come to pass, when he bade me speak harshly to 
no soul whom I might meet" 

Then he went down toward Iolcos ; and as he walked 
he found that he had lost one of his sandals in the flood. 

And as he went through the streets, the people came 
out to look at him, so tall and fair was he ; but some of 
the elders whispered together ; and at last one of them 
stopped Jason, and called to him, " Fair lad, who are 
you, and whence come you ; and what is your errand in 
the town ? " 

" My name, good father, is Jason, and I come from 
Pelion up above ; and my errand is to Pelias your king ; 
tell me, then, where his palace is." 

But the old man started, and grew pale, and said, " Do 
you not know the oracle, my son, that you go so boldly 
through the town with but one sandal on ? " 

" I am a stranger here, and know of no oracle ; but 
what of my one sandal? I lost the other in Anauros, 
while I was struggling with the flood." 

The Argonauts 17 

Then the old man looked back to his companions ; and 
one sighed, and another smiled ; at last he said, " I will 
tell you, lest you rush upon your ruin unawares. The 
Oracle in Delphi has said that a man wearing one sandal 
should take the kingdom from Pelias, and keep it for 
himself. Therefore beware how you go up to his palace, 
for he is the fiercest and most cunning of all kings." 

Then Jason laughed a great laugh, like a warhorse in 
his pride. " Good news, good father, both for you and 
me. For that very end I came into the town." 

Then he strode on toward the palace of Pelias, while 
all the people wondered at his bearing. 

And he stood in the doorway and cried, "Come out, 
come out, Pelias the valiant, and fight for your kingdom 
like a man." 

Pelias came out wondering, and, " Who are you, bold 
youth ? " he cried. 

" I am Jason, the son of ^Eson, the heir of all this 

Then Pelias lifted up his hands and eyes, and wept, or 
seemed to weep ; and blessed the heavens which had 
brought his nephew to him, never to leave him more. 
" For," said he, "I have but three daughters, and no son 
to be my heir. You shall be my heir, then, and rule the 
kingdom after me, and marry whichsoever of my daughters 
you shall choose ; though a sad kingdom you will find it, 
and whosoever rules it a miserable man. But come in, 
come in, and feast." 

So he drew Jason in, whether he would or not, and 
spoke to him so lovingly and feasted him so well, that 


1 8 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

Jason's anger passed ; and after supper his three cousins 
came into the hall, and Jason thought that he should like 
well enough to have one of them for his wife. 

But at last he said to Pelias, " Why do you look so 
sad, my uncle ? And what did you mean just now when 
you said that this was a doleful kingdom, and its ruler a 
miserable man ? " 

Then Pelias sighed heavily again and again and again, 
like a man who had to tell some dreadful story, and was 
afraid to begin ; but at last : 

" For seven long years and more have I never known 
a quiet night ; and no more will he who comes after me, 
till the golden fleece be brought home." 

Then he told Jason the story of Phrixus, and of the 
golden fleece ; and told him, too, which was a lie, that 
Phrixus' spirit tormented him, calling to him day and 
night. And his daughters came, and told the same tale 
(for their father had taught them their parts), and wept, 
and said, " Oh, who will bring home the golden fleece, 
that our uncles spirit may rest ; and that we may have 
rest also, whom he never lets sleep in peace ? " 

Jason sat a while, sad and silent ; for he had often 
heard of that golden fleece ; but he looked on it as a thing- 
hopeless and impossible for any mortal man to win it. 

But when Pelias saw him silent, he began to talk of 
other things, and courted Jason more and more, speaking- 
to him as if he were certain to be his heir, and asking 
his advice about the kingdom ; till Jason, who was young 
and simple, could not help saying to himself, " Surely he 
is not the dark man whom people call him. Yet why 

The Argonauts 19 

did he drive my father out ? " And he asked Pelias 
boldly, "Men say that you are terrible, and a man of 
blood ; but I find you a kind and hospitable man ; and as 
you are to me, so will I be to you. Yet why did you 
drive my father out ? " 

Pelias smiled and sighed. " Men have slandered me 
in that, as in all things. Your father was growing old 
and weary, and he gave the kingdom up to me of his own 
will. You shall see him to-morrow, and ask him ; and 
he will tell you the same." 

Jason's heart leapt in him when he heard that he was 
to see his father ; and he believed all that Pelias said, 
forgetting that his father might not dare to tell the truth. 

"One thing more there is," said Pelias, "on which I 
need your advice ; for, though you are young, I see in 
you a wisdom beyond your years. There is one neigh- 
bour of mine, whom I dread more than all men on earth. 
I am stronger than he now, and can command him ; but 
I know that if he stay among us, he will work my ruin in 
the end. Can you give me a plan, Jason, by which I can 
rid myself of that man ? " 

After a while Jason answered, half laughing, "Were I 
you, I would send him to fetch that same golden fleece ; 
for if he once set forth after it you would never be troubled 
with him more." 

And at that a bitter smile came across Pelias* lips, and 
a flash of wicked joy into his eyes ; and Jason saw it and 
started ; and over his mind came the warning of the old 
man, and his own one sandal, and the oracle, and he saw 
that he was taken in a trap. 

20 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

But Pelias only answered gently, t4 My son, he shall be 
sent forthwith." 

" You mean me ?" cried Jason, starting up, "because 
I came here with one sandal ? " And he lifted his fist 
angrily, while Pelias stood up to him like a wolf at bay ; 
and whether of the two was the stronger and the fiercer 
it would be hard to tell. 

But after a moment Pelias spoke gently, " Why then 
so rash, my son ? You, and not I, have said what is 
said ; why blame me for what I have not done ? Had 
you bid me love the man of whom I spoke, and make 
him my son-in-law and heir, I would have obeyed you ; 
and what if I obey you now, and send the man to win 
himself immortal fame ? I have not harmed you, or 
him. One thing at least I know, that he will go, and 
that gladly ; for he has a hero's heart within him, loving 
glory, and scorning to break the word which he has 

Jason saw that he was entrapped ; but his second 
promise to Chiron came into his mind, and he thought, 
" What if the Centaur were a prophet in that also, and 
meant that I should win the fleece ! " Then he cried 
aloud : 

" You have well spoken, cunning uncle of mine ! I 
love glory, and I dare keep to my word. I will go and 
fetch this golden fleece. Promise me but this in return, 
and keep your word as I keep mine. Treat my father 
lovingly while I am gone, for the sake of the all-seeing 
Zeus ; and give me up the kingdom for my own on the 
day that I bring back the golden fleece." 

The Argonauts 21 

Then Pelias looked at him and almost loved him, in 
the midst of all his hate ; and said, " I promise, and I 
will perform. It will be no shame to give up my king- 
dom to the man who wins that fleece.' ' 

Then they swore a great oath between them ; and 
afterwards both went in, and lay down to sleep. 

But Jason could not sleep for thinking of his mighty 
oath, and how he was to fulfil it, all alone, and without 
wealth or friends. So he tossed a long time upon his 
bed, and thought of this plan and of that ; and sometimes 
Phrixus seemed to call him, in a thin voice, faint and 
low, as if it came from far across the sea, %i Let me come 
home to my fathers and have rest." And sometimes he 
seemed to see the eyes of Hera, and to hear her words 
again : " Call on me in the hour of need, and see if the 
Immortals can forget." 

And on the morrow he went to Pelias, and said, 
44 Give me a victim, that I may sacrifice to Hera." So 
he went up, and offered his sacrifice ; and as he stood by 
the altar Hera sent a thought into his mind ; and he 
went back to Pelias, and said : 

" If you are indeed in earnest, give me two heralds, 
that they may go round to all the princes of the Minuai, 
who were pupils of the Centaur with me, that we may 
fit out a ship together, and take what shall befall." 

At that Pelias praised his wisdom, and hastened to 
send the heralds out ; for he said in his heart, " Let all 
the princes go with him, and, like him, never return ; 
for so I shall be lord of all the Minuai, and the greatest 
king in Hellas." 


How they Built the Ship Argo in Iolcos 

))0 the heralds went out, and cried to all 
the heroes of the Minuai, " Who dare 
come to the adventure of the golden 
fleece ? " 

And Hera stirred the hearts of all the 
princes, and they came from all their valleys to the 
yellow sands of Pagasai. And first came Hercules the 
mighty, with his lion's skin and club, and behind him 
Hylas his young squire, who bore his arrows and his 
bow ; and Tiphys, the skilful steersman ; and Butes, the 
fairest of all men ; and Castor and Polydeuces the twins, 
the sons of the magic swan ; and Ca^neus, the strongest 
of mortals, whom the Centaurs tried in vain to kill, and 
overwhelmed him with trunks of pine-trees, but even so 
he would not die ; and thither came Zetes and Calais, 
the winged sons of the north wind ; and Peleus, the 
father of Achilles, whose bride was silver-footed Thetis, 
the goddess of the sea. And thither came Telamon and 
Oileus, the fathers of the two Ajaxes, who fought upon 
the plains of Troy ; and Mopsus, the wise soothsayer, 
who knew the speech of birds ; and Idmon, to whom 

The Argonauts 23 

Phoebus gave a tongue to prophesy of things to come ; 
and Ancaios, who could read the stars, and knew all the 
circles of the heavens ; and Argus, the famed shipbuilder, 
and many a hero more, in helmets of brass and gold with 
tall dyed horse-hair crests, and embroidered shirts of 
linen beneath their coats of mail, and greaves of polished 
tin to guard their knees in fight ; with each man his 
shield upon his shoulder, of many a fold of tough bulls 
hide, and his sword of tempered bronze in his silver- 
studded belt ; and in his right hand a pair of lances, of 
the heavy white ash-staves. 

So they came down to Iolcos, and. all the city came 
out to meet them, and were never tired with looking at 
their height, and their beauty, and their gallant bearing, 
and the glitter of their inlaid arms. And some said, 
11 Never was such a gathering of the heroes since the 
Hellens conquered the land." But the women sighed 
over them, and whispered, 4< Alas ! they are all going to 
their death ! " 

Then they felled the pines on Pelion, and shaped them 
with the axe, and Argus taught them to build a galley, 
the first long ship which ever sailed the seas. They 
pierced her for fifty oars — an oar for each hero of the 
crew — and pitched her with coal-black pitch, and painted 
her bows with vermilion ; and they named her Argo 
after Argus, and worked at her all day long. And at 
night Pelias feasted them like a king, and they slept in 
his palace-porch. 

But Jason went away to the northward, and into the 
land of Thrace, till he found Orpheus, the prince of min- 

24 7#£ Book of Wonder Voyages 

strels, where he dwelt in his cave under Rhodope, among 
the savage Cicon tribes. And he asked him, " Will you 
leave your mountains, Orpheus, my fellow-scholar in old 
times, and cross Strymon once more with me, to sail 
with the heroes of the Minuai, and bring home the 
golden fleece, and charm for us all men and all monsters 
with your magic harp and song ? " 

Then Orpheus sighed, " Have I not ha^l enough of 
toil and of weary wandering far and wide since I lived 
in Chiron's cave, above Iolcos by the sea ? In vain is 
the skill and the voice which my goddess mother gave 
me ; in vain have I sung and laboured ; in vain I went 
down to the dead, and charmed all the kings of Hades, 
to win back Eurydice my bride. For I won her, my 
beloved, and lost her again the same day, and wandered 
away in my madness, even to Egypt and the Libyan 
sands, and the isles of all the seas, driven on by the 
terrible gadfly, while I charmed in vain the hearts of 
men, and the savage forest beasts, and the trees, and 
the lifeless stones, with my magic harp and song, giving 
rest, but finding none. But at last Calliope my mother 
delivered me, and brought me home in peace ; and I 
dwell here in the cave alone, among the savage Cicon 
tribes, softening their wild hearts with music and the 
gentle laws of Zeus. And now I must go out again, to 
the ends of all the earth, far away into the misty dark- 
ness, to the last wave of the Eastern Sea. But what is 
doomed must be, and a friend's demand obeyed ; for 
prayers are the daughters of Zeus, and who honours 
them honours him." 

The Argonauts 25 

Then Orpheus rose up sighing, and took his harp, and 
went over Strymon. And he led Jason to the south- 
west, up the banks of Haliacmon and over the spurs of 
Pindus, to Dodona the town of Zeus, where it stood by 
the side of the sacred lake, and the fountain which 
breathed out fire, in the darkness of the ancient oak- 
wood, beneath the mountain of the hundred springs. 
And he led him to the holy oak, where the black dove 
settled in old times, and was changed into the priestess 
of Zeus, and gave oracles to all nations round. And he 
bade him cut down a bough, and sacrifice to Hera and 
to Zeus ; and they took the bough and came to Iolcos, 
and nailed it to the beak-head of the ship. 

And at last the ship was finished, and they tried to 
launch her down the beach ; but she was too heavy for 
them to move her, and her keel sank deep into the sand. 
Then all the heroes looked at each other blushing ; but 
Jason spoke, and said, " Let us ask the magic bough ; 
perhaps it can help us in our need." 

Then a voice came from the bough, and Jason heard 
the words it said, and bade Orpheus play upon the harp, 
while the heroes waited round, holding the pine-trunk 
rollers, to help her toward the sea. 

Then Orpheus took his harp, and began his magic 
song : " How sweet it is to ride upon the surges, and to 
leap from wave to wave, while the wind sings cheerful in 
the cordage, and the oars flash fast among the foam ! 
How sweet it is to roam across the ocean, and see new 
towns and wondrous lands, and to come home laden with 
treasure, and to win undying fame ! " 

2 6 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

And the good ship Argo heard him, and longed to be 
away and out at sea ; till she stirred in every timber, and 
heaved from stem to stern, and leapt up from the sand 
upon the rollers, and plunged onward like a gallant 
horse ; and the heroes fed her path with pine-trunks, till 
she rushed into the whispering sea. 

Then they stored her well with food and water, and 
pulled the ladder up on board, and settled themselves 
each man to his oar, and kept time to Orpheus' harp ; 
and away across the bay they rowed southward, while 
the people lined the cliffs ; and the women wept, while 
the men shouted, at the starting of that gallant crew. 

How the Argonauts Sailed to Colchis 

JND what happened next, my children, 
whether it be true or not, stands written 
in ancient songs, which you shall read 
for yourselves some day. And grand 
old songs they are, written in grand old 
rolling verse ; and they call them the Songs of Orpheus, 
or the Orphics, to this day. And they tell how the 
heroes came to Aphetai, across the bay, and waited for 
the south-west wind, and chose themselves a captain 
from their crew : and how all called for Hercules, 
because he was the strongest and most huge ; but 
Hercules refused, and called for Jason, because he was 
the wisest of them all. So Jason was chosen captain ; 
and Orpheus heaped a pile of wood, and slew a bull, and 
offered it to Hera, and called all the heroes to stand 
round, each man's head crowned with olive, and to strike 
their swords into the bull. Then he filled a golden 
goblet with the bull's blood, and with wheaten flour, and 
honey, and wine, and the bitter salt-sea water, and bade 
the heroes taste. So each tasted the goblet, and passed 
it round, and vowed an awful vow : and they vowed 

2 8 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

before the sun, and the night, and the blue-haired sea 
who shakes the land, to stand by Jason faithfully in the 
adventure of the golden fleece ; and whosoever shrank 
back, or disobeyed, or turned traitor to his vow, then 
justice should minister against him, and the Erinnues 
who track guilty men. 

Then Jason lighted the pile, and burnt the carcass of 
the bull ; and they went to their ship and sailed east- 
ward, like men who have a work to do ; and the place 
from which they went was called Aphetai, the sailing- 
place, from that day forth. Three thousand years and 
more they sailed away, into the unknown Eastern seas ; 
and great nations have come and gone since then, and 
many a storm has swept the earth ; and many a mighty 
armament, to which Argo would be but one small boat ; 
English and French, Turkish and Russian, have sailed 
those waters since ; yet the fame of that small Argo 
lives for ever, and her name is become a proverb among 

So they sailed past the Isle of Sciathos, with the Cape 
of Sepius on their left, and turned to the northward 
toward Pelion, up the long Magnesian shore. On their 
right hand was the open sea, and on their left old Pelion 
rose, while the clouds crawled round his dark pine- 
forests, and his caps of summer snow. And their hearts 
yearned for the dear old mountain, as they thought of 
pleasant days gone by, and of the sports of their boy- 
hood, and their hunting, and their schooling in the cave 
beneath the cliff. And at last Peleus spoke, " Let us 
land here, friends, and climb the dear old hill once more. 

The Argonauts 29 

We are going on a fearful journey ; who knows if we 
shall see Pelion again? Let us go up to Chiron our 
master, and ask his blessing ere we start. And I have a 
boy, too, with him, whom he trains as he trained me 
once — the son whom Thetis brought me, the silver- 
footed lady of the sea, whom I caught in the cave, and 
tamed her, though she changed her shape seven times. 
For she changed, as I held her, into water, and to 
vapour, and to burning flame, and to a rock, and to a 
black-maned lion, and to a tall and stately tree. But I 
held her and held her ever, till she took her own shape 
again, and led her to my fathers house, and won her for 
my bride. And all the rulers of Olympus came to our 
wedding, and the heavens and the earth rejoiced together, 
when an Immortal wedded mortal man. And now let 
me see my son ; for it is not often I shall see him upon 
earth : famous he will be, but short-lived, and die in the 
flower of youth." 

So Tiphys the helmsman steered them to the shore 
under the crags of Pelion ; and they went up through 
the dark pine-forests towards the Centaurs cave. 

And they came into the misty hall, beneath the snow- 
crowned crag ; and saw the great Centaur lying, with 
his huge limbs spread upon the rock ; and beside him 
stood Achilles, the child whom no steel could wound, 
and played upon his harp right sweetly, while Chiron 
watched and smiled. 

Then Chiron leapt up and welcomed them, and kissed 
them every one, and set a feast before them of swine's 
flesh, and venison,, and good wine ; and young Achilles 

3 o The Book of Wonder Voyages 

served them, and carried the golden goblet round. And 
after supper all the heroes clapped their hands, and 
called on Orpheus to sing ; but he refused, and said, 
" How can I, who am the younger, sing before our 
ancient host ? " So they called on Chiron to sing, and 
Achilles brought him his harp ; and he began a wondrous 
song ; a famous story of old time, of the fight between 
the Centaurs and the Lapithai. He sang how his 
brothers came to ruin by their folly, when they were 
mad with wine ; and how they and the heroes fought, 
with fists, and teeth, and the goblets from which they 
drank ; and how they tore up the pine-trees in their fury, 
and hurled great crags of stone, while the mountains 
thundered with the battle, and the land was wasted far 
and wide ; till the Lapithai drove them from their home 
in the rich Thessalian plains to the lonely glens of 
Pindus, leaving Chiron all alone. And the heroes 
praised his song right heartily ; for some of them had 
helped in that great fight. 

Then Orpheus took the lyre, and sang of Chaos, and 
the making of the wondrous World, and how all things 
sprang from Love, who could not live alone in the 
Abyss. And as he sang, his voice rose from the cave, 
above the crags, and through the tree-tops, and the glens 
of oak and pine. And the trees bowed their heads when 
they heard it, and the grey rocks cracked and rang, and 
the forest beasts crept near to listen, and the birds for- 
sook their nests and hovered round. And old Chiron 
clapt his hands together, and beat his hoofs upon the 
ground, for wonder at that magic song. 

The Argonauts 3 1 

Then Peleus kissed his boy, and wept over him. and 
they went down to the ship ; and Chiron came down 
with them, weeping, and kissed them one by one, and 

blest them, and promised to them great renown. And 
the heroes wept when they left him, till their great hearts 
could weep no more ; for he was kind and just and pious, 
and wiser than all beasts and men. Then he went up to 
a cliff, and prayed for them, that they might come home 

3 2 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

safe and well ; while the heroes rowed away, and watched 
him standing on his cliff above the sea, with his great 
hands raised toward heaven, and his white locks waving 
in the wind ; and they strained their eyes to watch him 
to the last, for they felt that they should look on him no 

So they rowed on over the long swell of the sea, past 
Olympus, the seat of the Immortals, and past the wooded 
bays of Athos, and Samothrace the sacred isle ; and they 
came past Lemnos to the Hellespont, and through the 
narrow strait of Abydos, and so on into the Propontis, 
which we call Marmora now. And there they met with 
Cyzicus, ruling in Asia over the Dolions, who, the songs 
say, was the son of ^Eneas, of whom you will hear many 
a tale some day. For Homer tells us how he fought at 
Troy, and Virgil how he sailed away and founded Rome ; 
and men believed until late years that from him sprang 
our old British kings. Now Cyzicus, the songs say, 
welcomed the heroes, for his father had been one of 
Chiron's scholars ; so he welcomed them, and feasted 
them, and stored their ship with corn and wine, and 
cloaks and rugs, the songs say, and shirts, of which no 
doubt they stood in need. 

But at night, while they lay sleeping, came down on 
them terrible men, who lived with the bears in the 
mountains, like Titans or giants in shape ; for each of 
them had six arms, and they fought with young firs and 
pines. But Hercules killed them all before morn with 
his deadly poisoned arrows ; but among them, in the 
darkness, he slew Cyzicus the kindly prince. 

The Argonauts 33 

Then they got to their ship and to their oars, and 
Tiphys bade them cast off the hawsers and go to sea. 
But as he spoke a whirlwind came, and spun the Argo 
round, and twisted the hawsers together, so that no man 
could loose them. Then Tiphys dropped the rudder 
from his hand, and cried, "This comes from the gods 
above." But Jason went forward, and asked counsel of 
the magic bough. 

Then the magic bough spoke, and answered, " This is 
because you have slain Cyzicus your friend. You must 
appease his soul, or you will never leave this shore." 

Jason went back sadly, and told the heroes what he 
had heard. And they leapt on shore, and searched till 
dawn ; and at dawn they found the body, all rolled in 
dust and blood, among the corpses of those monstrous 
beasts. And they wept over their kind host, and laid 
him on a fair bed, and heaped a huge mound over him, 
and offered black sheep at his tomb, and Orpheus sang a 
magic song to him, that his spirit might have rest. And 
then they held games at the tomb, after the custom of 
those times, and Jason gave prizes to each winner. To 
Ancaeus he gave a golden cup, for he wrestled best of 
all ; and to Hercules a silver one, for he was the strongest 
of all ; and to Castor, who rode best, a golden crest ; and 
Polydeuces the boxer had a rich carpet, and to Orpheus 
for his song a sandal with golden wings. But Jason him- 
self was the best of all the archers, and the Minuai 
crowned him with an olive crown ; and so, the songs say, 
the soul of good Cyzicus was appeased and the heroes 
went on their way in peace. 


34 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

But when Cyzicus' wife heard that he was dead, she 
died likewise of grief ; and her tears became a fountain 
of clear water, which flows the whole year round. 

Then they rowed away, the songs say, along the 
Mysian shore, and past the mouth of Rhindacus, till they 
found a pleasant bay, sheltered by the long ridges of 
Arganthus, and by high walls of basalt rock. And there 
they ran the ship ashore upon the yellow sand, and furled 
the sail, and took the mast down, and lashed it in its 
crutch. And next they let down the ladder, and went 
ashore to sport and rest. 

And there Hercules went away into the woods, bow 
in hand, to hunt wild deer ; and Hylas, the fair boy, slipt 
away after him, and followed him by stealth, until he lost 
himself among the glens, and sat down weary to rest 
himself by the side of a lake ; and there the water-nymphs 
came up to look at him, and loved him, and carried him 
down under the lake to be their playfellow, for ever happy 
and young. And Hercules sought for him in vain, shout- 
ing his name till all the mountains rang ; but Hylas never 
heard him, far down under the sparkling lake. So while 
Hercules wandered searching for him, a fair breeze sprang 
up, and Hercules was nowhere to be found ; and the Argo 
sailed away, and Hercules was left behind, and never saw 
the noble Phasian stream. 

Then the Minuai came to a doleful land, where Amycus 
the giant ruled, and cared nothing for the laws of Zeus, 
but challenged all strangers to box with him, and those 
whom he conquered he slew. But Polydeuces the boxer 
struck him a harder blow than he ever felt before, and 

The Argonauts 35 

slew him ; and the Minuai went on up the Bosphorus, 
till they came to the city of Phineus, the fierce Bithynian 
king ; for Zetes and Calais bade Jason land there, because 
they had a work to do. 

And they went up from the shore toward the city, 
through forests white with snow ; and Phineus came out 
to meet them with a lean and woeful face, and said : 
"Welcome, gallant heroes, to the land of bitter blasts, 
the land of cold and misery ; yet I will feast you as best 
I can." And he led them in, and set meat before them ; 
but before they could put their hands to their mouths, 
down came two fearful monsters, the like of whom man 
never saw ; for they had the faces and hair of fair maidens, 
but the wings and claws of hawks ; and they snatched the 
meat from off the table, and flew shrieking out above the 

Then Phineus beat his breast and cried : " These are 
the Harpies, whose names are the Whirlwind and the 
Swift, the daughters of Wonder and of the Amber-nymph, 
and they rob us night and day. They carried off the 
daughters of Pandareus, whom all the gods had blest ; 
for Aphrodite fed them on Olympus with honey and milk 
and wine ; and Hera gave them beauty and wisdom, and 
Athen6 skill in all the arts ; but when they came to their 
wedding, the Harpies snatched them both away, and 
gave them to be slaves to the Erinnues, and live in 
horror all their days. And now they haunt me, and my 
people, and the Bosphorus, with fearful storms ; and 
sweep away our food from off our tables, so that we 
starve in spite of all our wealth." 

3 6 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

Then up rose Zetes and Calais, the winged sons of the 
North- wind, and said : 4< Do you not know us, Phineus, 
and these wings which grow upon our backs?" And 
Phineus hid his face in terror ; but he answered not a 

44 Because you have been a traitor, Phineus, the 
Harpies haunt you day and night. Where is Cleopatra 
our sister, your wife, whom you keep in prison? and 
where are her two children, whom you blinded in your 
rage, at the bidding of an evil woman, and cast them out 
upon the rocks? Swear to us that you will right our 
sister, and cast out that wicked woman ; and then we will 
free you from your plague, and drive the whirlwind 
maidens to the south ; but if not, we will put out your 
eyes, as you put out the eyes of your own sons." 

Then Phineus swore an oath to them, and drove out 
the wicked woman ; and Jason took those two poor 
children, and cured their eyes with magic herbs. 

But Zetes and Calais rose up sadly and said : " Fare- 
well now, heroes all ; farewell, our dear companions, with 
whom we played on Pelion in old times ; for a fate is 
laid upon us, and our day is come at last, in which we 
must hunt the whirlwinds over land and sea for ever ; and 
if we catch them they die, and if not, we die ourselves." 

At that all the heroes wept ; but the two young men 
sprang up, and aloft into the air after the Harpies, and 
the battle of the winds began. 

The heroes trembled in silence as they heard the 
shrieking of the blasts ; while the palace rocked and all 
the city, and great stones were torn from the crags, and 

The Argo?iauts 37 

the forest pines were hurled earthward, north and south 
and east and west, and the Bosphorus boiled white with 
foam, and the clouds were dashed against the cliffs. 

But at last the battle ended, and the Harpies fled 

screaming toward the south, and the sons of the North- 
wind rushed after them, and brought clear sunshine where 
they passed. For many ;i league they followed them, 
over all the isles of the Cyclades, and away to the south- 
west acrost Hellas, till they came to the Ionian Sea, and 

38 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

there they fell upon the Echinades, at the mouth of the 
Achelous ; and those isles were called the Whirlwind 
Isles for many a hundred years. But what became of 
Zetes and Calais I know not, for the heroes never saw 
them again : and some say that Hercules met them, and 
quarrelled with them, and slew them with his arrows; 
and some say that they fell down from weariness and the 
heat of the summer sun, and that the Sun-god buried 
them among the Cyclades, in the pleasant Isle of Tenos ; 
and for many hundred years their grave was shown there, 
and over it a pillar, which turned to every wind. But 
those dark storms and whirlwinds haunt the Bosphorus 
until this day. 

But the Argonauts went eastward, and out into the 
open sea, which we now call the Black Sea, but it was 
called the Euxine then. No Hellen had ever crossed it, 
and all feared that dreadful sea, and its rocks, and shoals, 
and fogs and bitter freezing storms ; and they told strange 
stories of it, some false and some half true, how it 
stretched northward to the ends of the earth, and the 
sluggish Putrid Sea, and the everlasting night, and the 
regions of the dead. So the heroes trembled, for all 
their courage, as they came into that wild Black Sea, and 
saw it stretching out before them, without a shore, as far 
as eye could see. 

And first Orpheus spoke, and warned them : " We 
shall come now to the wandering blue rocks ; my mother 
warned me of them, Calliope, the immortal muse." 

And soon they saw the blue rocks shining like spires 
and castles of grey glass, while an ice- cold wind blew 

The Argonauts 39 

from them and chilled all the heroes' hearts. And as 
they neared they could see them heaving, as they rolled 
upon the long sea- waves, crashing and grinding together, 
till the roar went up to heaven. The sea sprang up in 
spouts between them, and swept round them in white 
sheets of foam ; but their heads swung nodding high in 
air, while the wind whistled shrill among the crags. 

The heroes' hearts sank within them, and they lay 
upon their oars in fear; but Orpheus called to Tiphys 
the helmsman : " Between them we must pass ; so look 
ahead for an opening, and be brave, for Hera is with 
us." But Tiphys the cunning helmsman stood silent, 
clenching his teeth, till he saw a heron come flying mast- 
high toward the rocks, and hover a while before them, as 
if looking for a passage through. Then he cried, 
" Hera has sent us a pilot ; let us follow the cunning 

Then the heron flapped to and fro a moment, till he 
saw a hidden gap, and into it he rushed like an arrow, 
while the heroes watched what would befall. 

And the blue rocks clashed together as the bird fied 
swiftly through ; but they struck but a feather from his 
tail, and then rebounded apart at the shock. 

Then Tiphys cheered the heroes, and they shouted ; 
and the oars bent like withes beneath their strokes as 
they rushed between those toppling ice-crags and the 
cold blue lips of death. And ere the rocks could meet 
again they had passed them, and were safe out in the 
open sea. 

And after that they sailed on wearily along the Asian 

40 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

coast, by the Black Cape and Thyneis, where the hot 
stream of Thymbris falls into the sea, and Sangarius, 
whose waters float on the Euxine, till they came to Wolf 
the river, and to Wolf the kindly king. And there died 
two brave heroes, Idmonand Tiphys the wise helmsman : 
one died of an evil sickness, and one a wild boar slew. 
So the heroes heaped a mound above them, and set 
upon it an oar on high, and left them there to sleep 
together, on the far-off Lycian shore. But Idas killed 
the boar, and avenged Tiphys ; and Ancaios took the 
rudder and was helmsman, and steered them on toward 
the east. 

And they went on past Sinope, and many a mighty 
river s mouth, and past many a barbarous tribe, and the 
cities of the Amazons, the warlike women of the East, 
till all night they heard the clank of anvils and the roar 
of furnace-blasts, and the forge-fires shone like sparks 
through the darkness in the mountain glens aloft ; for 
they were come to the shores of the Chalybes, the 
smiths who never tire, but serve Ares the cruel War- 
god, forging weapons day and night. 

And at day-dawn they looked eastward, and midway 
between the sea and the sky they saw white snow-peaks 
hanging, glittering sharp and bright above the clouds. 
And they knew that they were come to Caucasus, at the 
end of all the earth : Caucasus the highest of all 
mountains, the father of the rivers of the East On his 
peak lies chained the Titan, while a vulture tears his 
heart ; and at his feet are piled dark forests round the 
magic Colchian land. 

The Argonauts 41 

And they rowed three days to the eastward, while 
Caucasus rose higher hour by hour, till they saw the 
dark stream of Phasis rushing headlong to the sea, and, 
shining above the tree-tops, the golden roofs of King 
Aietes, the child of the Sun. 

Then out spoke Ancaios the helmsman, "We are 
come to our goal at last, for there are the roofs of 
Aietes, and the woods where all poisons grow ; but who 
can tell us where among them is hid the golden fleece ? 
Many a toil must we bear ere we find it, and bring it 
home to Greece." 

But Jason cheered the heroes, for his heart was 
high and bold ; and he said, " I will go alone up 
to Aietes, though he be the child of the Sun, and win 
him with soft words. Better so than to go all together, 
and to come to blows at once." But the Minuai 
would not stay behind, so they rowed boldly up the 

And a dream came to Aietes, and filled his heart with 
fear. He thought he saw a shining star, which fell into 
his daughters lap ; and that Medea his daughter took it 
gladly, and carried it to the river-side, and cast it in, and 
there the whirling river bore it down, and out into the 
Euxine Sea. 

Then he leapt up in fear, and bade his servants bring 
his chariot, that he might go down to the river-side and 
appease the nymphs, and the heroes whose spirits haunt 
the bank. So he went down in his golden chariot, and 
his daughters by his side, Medea the fair witch-maiden, 
and Chalciope, who had been Phrixus wife, and behind 

42 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

him a crowd of servants and soldiers, for he was a rich 
and mighty prince. 

And as he drove down by the reedy river he saw 
Argo sliding up beneath the bank, and many a hero in 
her, like Immortals for beauty and for strength, as their 
weapons glittered round them in the level morning 
sunlight, through the white mist of the stream. But 
Jason was the noblest of all ; for Hera, who loved him, 
gave him beauty and tallness and terrible manhood. 

And when they came near together and looked into 
each others eyes the heroes were awed before Aietes as 
he shone in his chariot, like his father the glorious Sun ; 
for his robes were of rich gold tissue, and the rays of his 
diadem flashed fire ; and in his hand he bore a jewelled 
sceptre, which glittered like the stars ; and sternly he 
looked at them under his brows, and sternly he spoke 
and loud : 

44 Who are you, and what want you here, that you 
come to the shore of Cutaia ? Do you take no account 
of my rule, nor of my people the Colchians who serve 
me, who never tired yet in the battle, and know well 
how to face an invader? " 

And the heroes sat silent a while before the face of that 
ancient king. But Hera the awful goddess put courage 
into Jason's heart, and he rose and shouted loudly in 
answer, * 4 We are no pirates nor lawless men. We come 
not to plunder and to ravage, or carry away slaves from 
your land ; but my uncle, the son of Poseidon, Pelias the 
Minuan king, he it is who has set me on a quest to bring 
home the golden fleece. And these too, my bold 

The Argonauts 43 

comrades, they are no nameless men ; for some are the 
sons of Immortals, and some of heroes far renowned. 
And we too never tire in battle, and know well how to 
give blows and to take ; yet we wish to be guests at your 
table : it will be better so for both." 

Then Aietes* rage rushed up like a whirlwind, and his 
eyes flashed fire as he heard ; but he crushed his anger 
down in his breast, and spoke mildly a cunning speech : 

" If you will fight for the fleece with my Colchians, 
then many a man must die. But do you indeed expect 
to win from me the fleece in fight ? So few you are that 
if you be worsted I can load your ship with your corpses. 
But if you will be ruled by me, you will find it better far 
to choose the best man among you, and let him fulfil the 
labours which I demand. Then I will give him the 
golden fleece for a prize and a glory to you all." 

So saying, he turned his horses and drove back in 
silence to the town. And the Minuai sat silent with 
sorrow, and longed for Hercules and his strength ; for 
there was no facing the thousands of the Colchians and 
the fearful chance of war. 

But Chalciope, Phrixus' widow, went weeping to the 
town ; for she remembered her Minuan husband, and all 
the pleasures of her youth, while she watched the fair 
faces of his kinsmen, and their long locks of golden hair. 
And she whispered to Medea her sister : " Why should 
all these brave men die ? why does not my father give 
them up the fleece, that my husbands spirit may have 

And Medea's heart pitied the heroes, and Jason most 

44 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

of all ; and she answered : " Our father is stern and 
terrible, and who can win the golden fleece ? " But 
Chalciope said : 4< These men are not like our men ; there 
is nothing which they cannot dare nor do." 

And Medea thought of Jason and his brave counte- 
nance, and said : "If there was one among them who 
knew no fear, I could show him how to win the fleece." 

So in the dusk of evening they went down to the 
river-side, Chalciope and Medea the witch-maiden, and 
Argus, Phrixus' son. And Argus the boy crept forward, 
among the beds of reeds, till he came where the heroes 
were sleeping, on the thwarts of the ship, beneath the 
bank, while Jason kept ward on shore, and leant upon 
his lance full of thought. And the boy came to Jason, 
and said : 

44 1 am the son of Phrixus, your cousin ; and Chalciope 
my mother waits for you, to talk about the golden 

Then Jason went boldly with the boy, and found the 
two princesses standing ; and when Chalciope saw him 
she wept, and took his hands, and cried : 

44 O cousin of my beloved, go home before you die ! " 

* 4 It would be base to go home now, fair princess, and 
to have sailed all these seas in vain." Then both the 
princesses besought him ; but Jason said, 44 It is too 

44 But you know not," said Medea, <4 what he must do 
who would win the fleece. He must tame the two 
brazen-footed bulls, who breathe devouring flame ; and 
with them he must plough ere nightfall four acres in the 

The Argonauts 45 

field of Ares ; and he must sow them with serpents' 
teeth, of which each tooth springs up into an armed man. 
Then he must fight with all those warriors ; and little 
will it profit him to conquer them, for the fleece is 
guarded by a serpent, more huge than any mountain 
pine ; and over his body you must step if you would 
reach the golden fleece." 

Then Jason laughed bitterly. " Unjustly is that fleece 
kept here, and by an unjust and lawless king ; and un- 
justly shall I die in my youth, for I will attempt it ere 
another sun be set." 

Then Medea trembled, and said : " No mortal man 
can reach that fleece unless I guide him through. For 
round it, beyond the river, is a wall full nine ells high, 
with lofty towers and buttresses, and mighty gates of 
threefold brass ; and over the gates the wall is arched, 
with golden battlements above. And over the gateway 
sits Brimo, the wild witch-huntress of the woods, brand- 
ishing a pine-torch in her hands, while her mad hounds 
howl around. No man dare meet her or look on her, 
but only I her priestess, and she watches far and wide 
lest any stranger should come near." 

" No wall so high but it may be climbed at last, and 
no wood so thick but it may be crawled through ; no 
serpent so wary but he may be charmed, or witch-queen 
so fierce but spells may soothe her ; and I may yet win 
the golden fleece, if a wise maiden help bold men." 

And he looked at Medea cunningly, and held her with 
his glittering eye, till she blushed and trembled, and 
said : 

46 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

" Who can face the fire of the bulls' breath, and fight 
ten thousand armed men ? " 

" He whom you help,'' said Jason, flattering her, "for 
your fame is spread over all the earth. Are you not 
the queen of all enchantresses, wiser even than your 
sister Circe, in her fairy island in the West ? " 

" Would that I were with my sister Circe in her fairy 
island in the West, far away from sore temptation and 
thoughts which tear the heart ! But if it must be so — 
for why should you die ? — I have an ointment here ; I 
made it from the magic ice-flower which sprang from 
Prometheus' wound, above the clouds on Caucasus, in 
the dreary fields of snow. Anoint yourself with that, 
and you shall have in you seven men's strength ; and 
anoint your shield with it, and neither fire nor sword can 
harm you. But what you begin you must end before 
sunset, for its virtue lasts only one day. And anoint 
your helmet with it before you sow the serpents' teeth ; 
and when the sons of earth spring up, cast your helmet 
among their ranks, and the deadly crop of the War-god's 
field will mow itself, and perish." 

Then Jason fell on his knees before her, and thanked 
her and kissed her hands ; and she gave him the vase of 
ointment, and fled trembling through the reeds. And 
Jason told his comrades what had happened, and showed 
them the box of ointment ; and all rejoiced but Idas, and 
he grew mad with envy. 

And at sunrise Jason went and bathed, and anointed 
himself from head to foot, and his shield, and his helmet, 
and his weapons, and bade his comrades try the spell. 

The Argonauts 47 

So they tried to bend his lance, but it stood like an iron 
bar ; and Idas in spite hewed at it with his sword, but 
the blade flew to splinters in his face. Then they hurled 
their lances at his shield, but the spear-points turned like 
lead ; and Caineus tried to throw him, but he never 
stirred a foot ; and Polydeuces struck him with his fist a 
blow which would have killed an ox, but Jason only 
smiled, and the heroes danced about him with delight ; 
and he leapt, and ran, and shouted in the joy of that 
enormous strength, till the sun rose, and it was time to 
go and to claim Aietes' promise. 

So he sent up Telamon and Aithalides to tell Aietes 
that he was ready for the fight ; and they went up 
among the marble walls, and beneath the roofs of 
gold, and stood in Aietes' hall, while he grew pale with 

" Fulfil your promise to us, child of the blazing Sun. 
Give us the serpents' teeth, and let loose the fiery bulls ; 
for we have found a champion among us who can win 
the golden fleece." 

And Aietes bit his lips, for he fancied that they had 
fled away by night : but he could not go back from his 
promise ; so he gave them the serpents' teeth. 

Then he called for his chariot and his horses, and sent 
heralds through all the town ; and all the people went 
out with him to the dreadful War-god's field. 

And there Aietes sat upon his throne, with his warriors 
on each hand, thousands and tens of thousands, clothed 
from head to foot in steel chain-mail. And the people 
and the women crowded to every window and bank and 

48 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

wall ; while the Minuai stood together, a mere handful 
in the midst of that great host. 

And Chalciope was there and Argus, trembling, and 
Medea, wrapped closely in her veil ; but Aietes did not 
know that she was muttering cunning spells between her 

Then Jason cried, <4 Fulfil your promise, and let your 
fiery bulls come forth." 

Then Aietes bade open the gates, and the magic bulls 
leapt out. Their brazen hoofs rang upon the ground, 
and their nostrils sent out sheets of flame, as they rushed 
with lowered heads upon Jason ; but he never flinched 
a step. The flame of their breath swept round him, 
but it singed not a hair of his head ; and the bulls 
stopped short and trembled when Medea began her 

Then Jason sprang upon the nearest and seized him 
by the horn ; and up and down they wrestled, till the 
bull fell grovelling on his knees ; for the heart of the 
brute died within him, and his mighty limbs were loosed, 
beneath the steadfast eye of that dark witch-maiden and 
the magic whisper of her lips. 

So both the bulls were tamed and yoked ; and Jason 
bound them to the plough, and goaded them onward 
with his lance till he had ploughed the sacred field. 

And all the Minuai shouted ; but Aietes bit his lips 
with rage, for the half of Jason's work was over, and the 
sun was yet high in heaven. 

Then he took the serpents' teeth and sowed them, 
and waited what would befall. But Medea looked at 

The Argonauts 49 

him and at his helmet, lest he should forget the lesson 
she had taught. 

And every furrow heaved and bubbled, and out of 
every clod arose a man. Out of the earth they rose by 

thousands, each clad from head to foot in steel, and drew 
their swords and rushed on Jason, where he stood in the 
midst alone. 

Then the Minuai grew pale with fear for him; but 
Aietes laughed a bitter laugh. " See ! if I had not 

50 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

warriors enough already round me, I could call them out 
of the bosom of the earth." 

But Jason snatched off his helmet, and hurled it into 
the thickest of the throng. And blind madness came 
upon them, suspicion, hate, and fear ; and one cried to 
his fellow, " Thou didst strike me ! " and another, " Thou 
art Jason ; thou shalt die ! " So fury seized those earth- 
born phantoms, and each turned his hand against the 
rest ; and they fought and were never weary, till they all 
lay dead upon the ground Then the magic furrows 
opened and the kind earth took them home into her 
breast ; and the grass grew up all green again above 
them, and Jason's work was done. 

Then the Minuai rose and shouted, till Prometheus 
heard them from his crag. And Jason cried, " Lead 
me to the fleece this moment, before the sun goes 

But Aietes thought, " He has conquered the bulls, and 
sown and reaped the deadly crop. Who is this who is 
proof against all magic? He may kill the serpent yet" 
So he delayed, and sat taking counsel with his princes 
till the sun went down and all was dark. Then he bade 
a herald cry, " Every man to his home for to-night To- 
morrow we will meet these heroes, and speak about the 
golden fleece." 

Then he turned and looked at Medea. "This is your 
doing, false witch-maid ! You have helped these yellow- 
haired strangers, and brought shame upon your father 
and yourself! " 

Medea shrank and trembled, and her face grew pale 

The Argonauts 51 

with fear ; and Aietes knew that she was guilty, and 
whispered, " If they win the fleece, you die ! " 

But the Minuai marched toward their ship, growling 
like lions cheated of their prey ; for they saw that Aietes 
meant to mock them, and to cheat them out of all their 
toil. And Oileus said, " Let us go to the grove together, 
and take the fleece by force." 

And Idas the rash cried, " Let us draw lots who shall 
go in first ; for, while the dragon is devouring one, the 
rest can slay him and carry off the fleece in peace." But 
Jason held them back, though he praised them ; for he 
hoped for Medea's help. 

And after a while Medea came trembling, and wept a 
long while before she spoke. And at last : 

44 My end is come, and I must die ; for my father has 
found out that I have helped you. You he would kill if 
he dared ; but he will not harm you, because you have 
been his guests. Go, then, go, and remember poor 
Medea when you are far away across the sea." But all 
the heroes cried : 

44 If you die, we die with you ; for without you we 
cannot win the fleece, and home we will not go without 
it, but fall here fighting to the last man." 

44 You need not die," said Jason. 4< Flee home with 
us across the sea. Show us first how to win the fleece ; 
for you can do it. Why else are you the priestess of 
the grove? Show us but how to win the fleece, and 
come with us, and you shall be my queen, and rule 
over the rich princes of the Minuai, in Iolcos by the 


5 2 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

And all the heroes pressed round, and vowed to her 
that she should be their queen. 

Medea wept, and shuddered, and hid her face in her 
hands ; for her heart yearned after her sisters and her 
playfellows, and the home where she was brought up as 
a child. But at last she looked up at Jason, and spoke 
between her sobs : 

" Must I leave my home and my people, to wander 
with strangers across the sea ? The lot is cast, and I 
must endure it. I will show you how to win the golden 
fleece. Bring up your ship to the wood-side, and moor 
her there against the bank ; and let Jason come up at 
midnight, and one brave comrade with him, and meet me 
beneath the wall." 

Then all the heroes cried together, " I will go ! " "and 
I ! " " and I ! " And Idas the rash grew mad with envy ; 
for he longed to be foremost in all things. But Medea 
calmed them, and said, " Orpheus shall go with Jason, 
and bring his magic harp ; for I hear of him that he is the 
king of all minstrels, and can charm all things on earth." 

And Orpheus laughed for joy, and clapped his hands, 
because the choice had fallen on him ; for in those days 
poets and singers were as bold warriors as the best 

So at midnight they went up the bank, and found 
Medea : and beside came Absyrtus her young brother, 
leading a yearling lamb. 

Then Medea brought them to a thicket beside the 
War-gods gate ; and there she bade Jason dig a ditch 
and kill the lamb, and leave it there, and strew on it 
magic herbs and honey from the honeycomb. 

The Argonauts 53 

Then sprang up through the earth, with the red fire 
flashing before her, Brimo the wild witch-huntress, while 
her mad hounds howled around. She had one head like 
a horses, and another like a ravening hound's, and another 
like a hissing snakes, and a sword in either hand. And 
she leapt into the ditch with her hounds, and they ate and 
drank their fill, while Jason and Orpheus trembled, and 
Medea hid her eyes. And at last the witch-queen vanished, 
and fled with her hounds into the woods ; and the bars of 
the gates fell down, and the brazen doors flew wide, and 
Medea and the heroes ran forward and hurried through 
the poison wood, among the dark stems of the mighty 
beeches, guided by the gleam of the golden fleece, until 
they saw it hanging on one vast tree in the midst. And 
Jason would have sprung to seize it ; but Medea held 
him back, and pointed, shuddering, to the tree-foot, 
where the mighty serpent lay, coiled in and out among 
the roots, with a body like a mountain pine. His coils 
stretched many a fathom, spangled with bronze and gold ; 
and half of him they could see, but no more, for the rest 
lay in the darkness far beyond. 

And when he saw them coming he lifted up his head, 
and watched them with his small bright eyes, and flashed 
his forked tongue, and roared like the fire among the 
woodlands, till the forest tossed and groaned. For his 
cries shook the trees from leaf to root, and swept over 
the long reaches of the river, and over Aietes' hall, and 
woke the sleepers in the city, till mothers clasped their 
children in their fear. 

But Medea called gently to him, and he stretched out 

54 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

his long spotted neck, and licked her hand, and looked^ 
up in her face, as if to ask for food. Then she made a 
sign to Orpheus, and he began his magic song. 

And as he sung, the forest grew calm again, and the 
leaves on every tree hung still ; and the serpent's head 
sank down, and his brazen coils grew limp, and his 
glittering eyes closed lazily, till he breathed as gently as 
a child, while Orpheus called to pleasant Slumber, who 
gives peace to men, and beasts, and waves. 

Then Jason leapt forward warily, and stept across that 
mighty snake, and tore the fleece from off the tree- 
trunk ; and the four rushed down the garden, to the 
bank where the Argo lay. 

There was a silence for a moment, while Jason held 
the golden fleece on high. Then he cried, "Go now, 
good Argo y swift and steady, if ever you would see 
Pelion more." 

And she went, as the heroes drove her, grim and 
silent all, with muffled oars, till the pine-wood bent like 
willow in their hands, and stout Argo groaned beneath 
their strokes. 

On and on, beneath the dewy darkness, they fled 
swiftly down the swirling stream ; underneath black 
walls, and temples, and the castles of the princes of the 
East ; past sluice-mouths, and fragrant gardens, and 
groves of all strange fruits ; past marshes where fat 
kine lay sleeping, and long beds of whispering reeds; 
till they heard the merry music of the surge upon the 
bar, as it tumbled in the moonlight all alone. 

Into the surge they rushed, and Argo leapt the 

The Argonauts 55 

breakers like a horse ; for she knew the time was come 
to show her mettle, and win honour for the heroes and 

Into the surge they rushed, and Argo leapt the 
breakers like a horse, till the heroes stopped all panting 
sach man upon his oar, as she slid into the still broad 

Then Orpheus took his harp and sang a paean, till the 
heroes' hearts rose high again ; and they rowed on 
stoutly and steadfastly, away into the darkness of the 

How the Argonauts were Driven into the Unknown Sea 

1)0 they fled away in haste to the westward ; 
but Aietes manned his Meet and followed 
them. And Lynceus the quick-eyed saw 
him coming, while he was still many a 
mile away, and cried, " I see a hundred 
ships, like a flock of white swans, far in the east" And 
at that they rowed hard, like heroes ; but the ships came 
nearer every hour. 

Then Medea, the dark witch-maiden, laid a cruel and 
a cunning plot ; for she killed Absyrtus, her young 
brother, and cast him into the sea, and said, " Ere my 
father can take up his corpse and bury it, he must wait 
long, and be left far behind." 

And all the heroes shuddered, and looked one at the 
other for shame ; yet they did not punish that dark 
witch-woman, because she had won for them the golden 

And when Aietes came to the place he saw the floating 
corpse ; and he stopped a long while, and bewailed his 
son, and took him up, and went home. But he sent on 
his sailors toward the westward, and bound them by a 

The Argonauts 57 

mighty curse : " Bring back to me that dark witch- 
woman, that she may die a dreadful death. But if you 
return without her, you shall die by the same death 

So the Argonauts escaped for that time ; but Father 
Zeus saw that foul crime ; and out of the heavens he sent 
a storm, and swept the ship far from her course. Day 
after day the storm drove her, amid foam and blinding 
mist, till they knew no longer where they were, for the 
sun was blotted from the skies. And at last the ship 
struck on a shoal, amid low isles of mud and sand, and 
the waves rolled over her and through her, and the 
heroes lost all hope of life. 

Then Jason cried to Hera, " Fair queen, who hast 
befriended us till now, why hast thou left us in our 
misery, to die here among unknown seas ? It is hard to 
lose the honour which we have won with such toil and 
danger, and hard never to see Hellas again, and the 
pleasant bay of Pagasai." 

Then out and spoke the magic bough which stood 
upon the Argds beak, " Because Father Zeus is angry, 
all this has fallen on you ; for a cruel crime has been 
done on board, and the sacred ship is foul with blood." 

At that some of the heroes cried, " Medea is the mur- 
deress. Let the witch-woman bear her sin, and die ! " 
And they seized Medea, to hurl her into the sea, and 
atone for the young boy's death ; but the magic bough 
spoke again, " Let her live till her crimes are full. Ven- 
geance waits for her, slow and sure ; but she must live, 
for you need her still She must show you the way to 

5 8 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

her sister Circe, who lives among the islands of the 
West. To her you must sail, a weary way, and she shall 
cleanse you from your guilt." 

Then all the heroes wept aloud when they heard the 
sentence of the oak ; for they knew that a dark journey 
lay before them, and years of bitter toil. And some up- 
braided the dark witch-woman, and some said, " Nay, we 
are her debtors still ; without her we should never have 
won the fleece." But most of them bit their lips in 
silence, for they feared the witch's spells. 

And now the sea grew calmer, and the sun shone out 
once more, and the heroes thrust the ship off the sand- 
bank, and rowed forward on their weary course under the 
guiding of the dark witch-maiden, into the wastes of the 
unknown sea. 

Whither they went I cannot tell, nor how they came to 
Circes isle. Some say that they went to the westward, 
and up the Ister stream, and so came into the Adriatic, 
dragging their ship over the snowy Alps. And others 
say that they went southward, into the Red Indian Sea, 
and past the sunny lands where spices grow, round 
^Ethiopia toward the West ; and that at last they came 
to Libya, and dragged their ship across the burning 
sands, and over the hills into the Syrtes, where the flats 
and quicksands spread for many a mile, between rich 
Cyrene and the Lotus-eaters' shore. But all these 
are but dreams and fables, and dim hints of unknown 

But all say that they came to a place where they had 
to drag their ship across the land nine days with ropes 

The Argonauts 59 

and rollers, till they came into an unknown sea. And 
the best of all the old songs tells us how they went away 
toward the North, till they came to the slope of Caucasus, 
where it sinks into the sea ; and to the narrow Cimme- 
rian Bosphorus, where the Titan swam across upon the 
bull ; and thence into the lazy waters of the still Maeotid 
lake. And thence they went northward ever, up the 
Tanais, which we call Don, past the Geloni and Sauro- 
matai, and many a wandering shepherd-tribe, and the 
one-eyed Arimaspi, of whom old Greek poets tell, who 
steal the gold from the Griffins, in the cold Riphaian hills. 
And they passed the Scythian archers, and the Tauri 
who eat men, and the wandering Hyperboreai, who feed 
their flocks beneath the pole-star, until they came into 
the northern ocean, the dull dead Cronian Sea. And 
there Argo would move on no longer; and each man 
clasped his elbow, and leaned his head upon his hand, 
heartbroken with toil and hunger, and gave himself up to 
death. But brave Ancaios the helmsman cheered up 
their hearts once more, and bade them leap on land, and 
haul the ship with ropes and rollers for many a weary 
day, whether over land, or mud, or ice, I know not, for 
the song is mixed and broken like a dream. And it says 
next, how they came to the rich nation of the famous 
long-lived men ; and to the coast of the Cimmerians, who 
never saw the sun, buried deep in the glens of the snow 
mountains ; and to the fair land of Hermione, where 
dwelt the most righteous of all nations : and to the 
gates of the world below, and to the dwelling-place of 

60 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

And at last Ancaios shouted, " Endure a little while, 
brave friends, the worst is surely past ; for I can see the 
pure west wind ruffle the water, and hear the roar of 
ocean on the sands. So raise up the mast, and set the 
sail, and face what comes like men." 

Then out spoke the magic bough : " Ah, would that I 
had perished long ago, and been whelmed by the dread 
blue rocks beneath the fierce swell of the Euxine ! Better 
so, than to wander for ever, disgraced by the guilt of my 
princes ; for the blood of Absyrtus still tracks me, and 
woe follows hard upon woe. And now some dark horror 
will clutch me, if I come near the Isle of Ierne. Unless 
you will cling to the land, and sail southward and south- 
ward for ever, I shall wander beyond the Atlantic, to the 
ocean which has no shore." 

Then they blest the magic bough, and sailed south 
ward along the land. But ere they could pass Ierne, the 
land of mists and storms, the wild wind came down, dark 
and roaring, and caught the sail, and strained the ropes. 
And away they drove twelve nights, on the wide wild 
western sea, through the foam, and over the rollers, while 
they saw neither sun nor stars. And they cried again : 
44 We shall perish, for we know not where we are. We 
are lost in the dreary damp darkness, and cannot tell 
north from south." 

But Lynceus the long-sighted called gaily from the 
bows : 44 Take heart again, brave sailors ; for I see a pine- 
clad isle, and the halls of the kind Earth-mother, with a 
crown of clouds around them." 

But Orpheus said : " Turn from them, for no living 


The Argonauts 61 

man can land there ; there is no harbour on the coast, 
but steep- walled cliffs all round." 

So Ancaios turned the ship away ; and for three days 
more they sailed on, till they came to Aiaia, Circe's home, 
and the fairy island of the West. 

And there Jason bid them land, and seek about for any 
sign of living man. And as they went inland Circe met 
them, coming down toward the ship ; and they trembled 
when they saw her, for her hair, and face, and robes 
shone like flame. 

And she came and looked at Medea ; and Medea hid 
her face beneath her veil. 

And Circe cried: "Ah, wretched girl, have you for- 
gotten all your sins, that you come hither to my island, 
where the flowers bloom all the year round ? Where is 
your aged father, and the brother whom you killed ? Little 
do I expect you to return in safety with these strangers 
whom you love. I will send you food and wine : but 
your ship must not stay here, for it is foul with sin, and 
foul with sin its crew." 

And the heroes prayed her, but in vain, and cried, 
" Cleanse us from our guilt ! " But she sent them away, 
and said, " Go on to Malea, and there you may be cleansed, 
and return home." 

Then a fair wind rose, and they sailed eastward, by 
Tartessus on the Iberian shore, till they came to the 
Pillars of Hercules, and the Mediterranean Sea. And 
thence they sailed on through the deeps of Sardinia, and 
past the Ausonian Islands, and the capes of the Tyrrhenian 
shore, till they came to a flowery island upon a still 

62 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

bright summer's eve. And as they neared it, slowly and 
wearily, they heard sweet songs upon the shore. But 
when Medea heard it, she started, and cried, " Beware, 
all heroes, for these are the rocks of the Sirens. You must 
pass close by them, for there is no other channel ; but 
those who listen to that song are lost." 

Then Orpheus spoke, the king of all minstrels, " Let 
them match their song against mine. I have charmed 
stones, and trees, and dragons, how much more the hearts 
of men ! " So he caught up his lyre, and stood upon the 
poop, and began his magic song. 

And now they could see the Sirens on Anthemousa, 
the flowery isle ; three fair maidens sitting on the beach, 
beneath a red rock in the setting sun, among beds of 
crimson poppies and golden asphodel. Slowly they sung 
and sleepily, with silver voices, mild and clear, which 
stole over the golden waters, and into the hearts of all the 
heroes, in spite of Orpheus' song. 

And all things stayed around and listened ; the gulls 
sat in white lines along the rocks ; on the beach great 
seals lay basking, and kept time with lazy heads ; while 
silver shoals of fish came up to hearken, and whispered 
as they broke the shining calm. The Wind overhead 
hushed his whistling, as he shepherded his clouds toward 
the west ; and the clouds stood in mid-blue, and listened 
dreaming, like a flock of golden sheep. 

And as the heroes listened, the oars fell from their 
hands, and their heads drooped on their breasts, and they 
closed their heavy eyes ; and they dreamed of bright still 
gardens, and of slumbers under murmuring pines, till all 

The Argonauts 63 

their toil seemed foolishness, and they thought of their 
renown no more. 

Then one lifted his head suddenly, and cried, " What 
use in wandering for ever ? Let us stay here and rest 
a while." And another, " Let us row to the shore, and 
hear the words they sing." And another, " I care not 
for the words, but for the music. They shall sing me to 
sleep, that I may rest." 

And Butes, the son of Pandion, the fairest of all mortal 
men, leapt out and swam toward the shore, crying, " I 
come, I come, fair maidens, to live and die here, listening 
to your song." 

Then Medea clapped her hands together, and cried, 
11 Sing louder, Orpheus, sing a bolder strain ; wake up 
these hapless sluggards, or none of them will see the land 
of Hellas more." 

Then Orpheus lifted his harp, and crashed his cunning 
hand across the strings ; and his music and his voice rose 
like a trumpet through the still evening air ; into the air 
it rushed like thunder, till the rocks rang and the sea ; 
and into their souls it rushed like wine, till all hearts beat 
fast within their breasts. 

And he sung the song of Perseus, how the gods led 
him over land and sea, and how he slew the loathly 
Gorgon, and won himself a peerless bride ; and how he 
sits now with the gods upon Olympus, a shining star in the 
sky, immortal with his immortal bride, and honoured by 
all men below. 

So Orpheus sang, and the Sirens, answering each 
other across the golden sea, till Orpheus' voice 

64 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

drowned the Sirens', and the heroes caught their oars 

And they cried, " We will be men like Perseus, and 
we will dare and suffer to the last Sing us his song 
again, brave Orpheus, that we may forget the Sirens and 
their spell." 

And as Orpheus sang, they dashed their oars into the 
sea, and kept time to his music, as they fled fast away ; 
and the Sirens voices died behind them, in the hissing of 
the foam along their wake. 

But Butes swam to the shore, and knelt down before 
the Sirens, and cried, " Sing on ! sing on ! " But he 
could say no more, for a charmed sleep came over him, 
and a pleasant humming in his ears ; and he sank all 
along upon the pebbles, and forgot all heaven and earth, 
and never looked at that sad beach around him, all strewn 
with the bones of men. 

Then slowly rose up those three fair sisters, with a 
cruel smile upon their lips ; and slowly they crept down 
towards him, like leopards who creep upon their prey ; 
and their hands were like the talons of eagles as they 
stept across the bones of their victims to enjoy their 
cruel feast. 

But fairest Aphrodite saw him from the highest 
Idalian peak, and she pitied his youth and his beauty, 
and leapt up from her golden throne ; and like a falling 
star she cleft the sky, and left a trail of glittering light, 
till she stooped to the Isle of the Sirens, and snatched 
their prey from their claws. And she lifted Butes as he 
lay sleeping, and wrapt him in a golden mist ; and she 

The Argonauts 65 

bore him to the peak of Lilybaeum, and he slept there 
many a pleasant year. 

But when the Sirens saw that they were conquered, 
they shrieked for envy and rage, and leapt from the 
beach into the sea, and were changed into rocks until 
this day. 

Then they came to the straits by Lilybaeum, and saw 
Sicily, the three-cornered island, under which Enceladus 
the giant lies groaning day and night, and when he turns 
the earth quakes, and his breath bursts out in roaring 
flames from the highest cone of -/Etna, above the chest- 
nut woods. And there Charybdis caught them in its 
fearful coils of wave, and rolled mast-high about them, 
and spun them round and round ; and they could go 
neither back nor forward, while the whirlpool sucked 
them in. 

And while they struggled they saw near them, on the 
other side the strait, a rock stand in the water, with its 
peak wrapt round in clouds — a rock which no man could 
climb, though he had twenty hands and feet, for the 
stone was smooth and slippery, as if polished by man's 
hand ; and half-way up a misty cave looked out toward 
the west. 

And when Orpheus saw it he groaned, and struck his 
hands together. And " Little will it help us," he cried, 
" to escape the jaws of the whirlpool ; for in that cave 
lives Scylla, the sea-hag with a young whelp's voice ; 
my mother warned me of her ere we sailed away from 
Hellas ; she has six heads, and six long necks, and hides 
in that dark cleft. And from her cave she fishes for all 


66 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

things which pass by — for sharks, and seals, and dolphins, 
and all the herds of Amphitrite. And never ship's crew 
boasted that they came safe by her rock, for she bends 
her long necks down to them, and every mouth takes up 
a man. And who will help us now? For Hera and 
Zeus hate us, and our ship is foul with guilt ; so we must 
die, whatever befalls." 

Then out of the depths came Thetis, Peleus' silver- 
footed bride, for love of her gallant husband, and all her 
nymphs around her ; and they played like snow-white 
dolphins, diving on from wave to wave, before the ship, 
and in her wake, and beside her, as dolphins play. And 
they caught the ship, and guided her, and passed her on 
from hand to hand, and tossed her through the billows, 
as maidens toss the ball. And when Scylla stooped to 
seize her, they struck back her ravening heads, and foul 
Scylla whined, as a whelp whines, at the touch of their 
gentle hands. But she shrank into her cave affrighted — 
for all bad things shrink from good — and Argo leapt safe 
past her, while a fair breeze rose behind. Then Thetis 
and her nymphs sank down to their coral caves beneath 
the sea, and their gardens of green and purple, where 
live flowers bloom all the year round ; while the heroes 
went on rejoicing, yet dreading what might come next 

After that they rowed on steadily for many a weary 
day, till they saw a long high island, and beyond it a 
mountain land. And they searched till they found a 
harbour, and there rowed boldly in. But after a while 
they stopped, and wondered, for there stood a great city 
on the shore, and temples and walls and gardens, and 

The Argonauts 67 

castles high in air upon the cliffs. And on either side 
they saw a harbour, with a narrow mouth, but wide 
within ; and black ships without number, high and dry 
upon the shore. 

Then Ancaios, the wise helmsman, spoke: "What 
new wonder is this ? I know all isles, and harbours, and 
the windings of all seas ; and this should be Corcyra, 
where a few wild goat-herds dwell. But whence come 
these new harbours and vast works of polished stone ? " 

But Jason said, " They can be no savage people. We 
will go in and take our chance." 

So they rowed into the harbour, among a thousand 
black-beaked ships, each larger far than Argo, toward a 
quay of polished stone. And they wondered at that 
mighty city, with its roofs of burnished brass, and long 
and lofty walls of marble, with strong palisades above. 
And the quays were full of people, merchants, and 
mariners, and slaves, going to and fro with merchandise 
among the crowd of ships. And the heroes' hearts were 
humbled, and they looked at each other and said, " We 
thought ourselves a gallant crew when we sailed from 
Iolcos by the sea; but how small we look before this 
city, like an ant before a hive of bees." 

Then the sailors hailed them roughly from the quay : 
44 What men are you? — we want no strangers here, nor 
pirates. We keep our business to ourselves." 

But Jason answered gently, with many a flattering 
word, and praised their city and their harbour, and their 
fleet of gallant ships. " Surely you are the children of 
Poseidon, and the masters of the sea ; and we are but 

68 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

poor wandering mariners, worn out with thirst and toil. 
Give us but food and water, and we will go on our voyage 
in peace." 

Then the sailors laughed, and answered: "Stranger, 
you are no fool ; you talk like an honest man, and you 
shall find us honest too. We are the children of Poseidon, 
and the masters of the sea ; but come ashore to us, and 
you shall have the best that we can give." 

So they limped ashore, all stiff and weary, with long 
ragged beards and sunburnt cheeks, and garments torn 
and weather-stained, and weapons rusted with the spray, 
while the sailors laughed at them (for they were rough- 
tongued, though their hearts were frank and kind). And 
one said, 4t These fellows are but raw sailors ; they look 
as if they had been sea-sick all the day." And another, 
" Their legs have grown crooked with much rowing, till 
they waddle in their walk like ducks." 

At that Idas the rash would have struck them ; but 
Jason held him back, till one of the merchant kings spoke 
to them, a tall and stately man : 

" Do not be angry, strangers ; the sailor boys must 
have their jest. But we will treat you justly and kindly, 
for strangers and poor men come from God ; and you 
seem no common sailors by your strength, and height, 
and weapons. Come up with me to the palace of 
Alcinous, the rich sea-going king, and we will feast you 
well and heartily ; and after that you shall tell us your 


But Medea hung back, and trembled, and whispered 
in Jason's ear, " We are betrayed, and are going to our 

The Argonauts 69 

ruin, for I see my countrymen among the crowd ; dark- 
eyed Colchi in steel mail-shirts, such as they wear in my 
fathers land." 

" It is too late to turn," said Jason. And he spoke to 
the merchant king : " What country is this, good sir ? 
And what is this new-built town ? " 

" This is the land of the Pheeaces, beloved by all the 
Immortals ; for they come hither and feast like friends 
with us, and sit by our side in the hall. Hither we came 
from Laburnia to escape the unrighteous Cyclopes ; for 
they robbed us, peaceful merchants, of our hard-earned 
wares and wealth. So Nausithous, the son of Poseidon, 
brought us hither, and died in peace ; and now his son 
Alcinous rules us, and Arete the wisest of queens." 

So they went up across the square, and wondered still 
more as they went ; for along the quays lay in order 
great cables, and yards, and masts, before the fair temple 
of Poseidon, the blue-haired king of the seas. And round 
the square worked the shipwrights, as many in number as 
ants, twining ropes, and hewing timber, and smoothing 
long yards and oars. And the Minuai went on in silence 
through clean white marble streets, till they came to the 
hall of Alcinous, and they wondered then still more. For 
the lofty palace shone aloft in the sun, with walls of plated 
brass, from the threshold to the innermost chamber, and 
the doors were of silver and gold. And on each side of 
the doorway sat living dogs of gold, who never grew old 
or died, so well Hephaistos had made them in his forges 
in smoking Lemnos, and gave them to Alcinous to guard 
his gates by night. And within, against the walls, stood 

70 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

thrones on either side, down the whole length of the hall, 
strewn with rich glossy shawls ; and on them the merchant 
kings of those crafty sea-roving Phaeaces sat eating and 
drinking in pride, and feasting there all the year round. 
And boys of molten gold stood each on a polished altar, 
and held torches in their hands, to give light all night to 
the guests. And round the house sat fifty maid-servants, 
some grinding the meal in the mill, some turning the 
spindle, some weaving at the loom, while their hands 
twinkled as they passed the shuttle, like quivering aspen 

And outside before the palace a great garden was 
walled round, filled full of stately fruit-trees, grey olives 
and sweet figs, and pomegranates, pears, and apples, 
which bore the whole year round. For the rich south- 
west wind fed them, till pear grew ripe on pear, fig 
on fig, and grape on grape, all the winter and the 
spring. And at the further end gay flower-beds 
bloomed through all seasons of the year ; and two fair 
fountains rose, and ran, one through the garden 
grounds, and one beneath the palace gate, to water 
all the town. Such noble gifts the heavens had given 
to Alcinous the wise. 

So they went in, and saw him sitting, like Poseidon, 
on his throne, with his golden sceptre by him, in 
garments stiff with gold, and in his hand a sculptured 
goblet as he pledged the merchant kings ; and beside 
him stood Arete, his wise and lovely queen, and leaned 
against a pillar as she spun her golden threads. 

Then Alcinous rose, and welcomed them, and bade 

The Argonauts 71 

them sit and eat ; and the servants brought them tables* 
and bread, and meat, and wine. 

But Medea went on trembling toward Arete the fair 
queen, and fell at her knees, and clasped them, and 
cried, weeping, as she knelt : 

" I am your guest, fair queen, and I entreat you by 
Zeus, from whom prayers come. Do not send me back 
to my father to die some dreadful death ; but let me go 
my way, and bear my burden. Have I not had enough 
of punishment and shame ? " 

44 Who are you, strange maiden? and what is the 
meaning of your prayer ? " 

44 I am Medea, daughter of Aietes, and I saw my 
countrymen here to-day ; and I know that they are come 
to find me, and take me home to die some dreadful 

Then Arete frowned, and said, " Lead this girl in, my 
maidens ; and let the kings decide, not I." 

And Alcinous leapt up from his throne, and cried, 
44 Speak, strangers, who are you ? And who is this 
maiden ? " 

14 We are the heroes of the Minuai," said Jason ; 44 and 
this maiden has spoken truth. We are the men who 
took the golden fleece, the men whose fame has run 
round every shore. We came hither out of the ocean, 
after sorrows such as man never saw before. We went 
out many, and come back few, for many a noble comrade 
have we lost. So let us go, as you should let your 
guests go, in peace ; that the world may say, 4 Alcinous 
is a just king. 

> 11 

7 2 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

But Alcinous frowned, and stood deep in thought ; 
and at last he spoke : 

" Had not the deed been done which is done, I should 
have said this day to myself, i It is an honour to 
Alcinous, and to his children after him, that the far- 
famed Argonauts are his guests.' But these Colchi are 
my guests, as you are; and for this month they have 
waited here with all their fleet, for they have hunted all 
the seas of Hellas, and could not find you, and dared 
neither go farther, nor go home." 

44 Let them choose out their champions, and we will 
fight them, man for man." 

44 No guests of ours shall fight upon our island, and if 
you go outside they will outnumber you. I will do 
justice between you, for I know and do what is right" 

Then he turned to his kings, and said, "This may' 
stand over till to-morrow. To-night we will feast our 
guests, and hear the story of all their wanderings, and 
how they came hither out of the ocean." 

So Alcinous bade the servants take the heroes in, and 
bathe them, and give them clothes. And they were glad 
when they saw the warm water, for it was long since 
they had bathed. And they washed off the sea-salt from 
their limbs, and anointed themselves from head to foot 
with oil, and combed out their golden hair. Then they 
came back again into the hall, while the merchant kings 
rose up to do them honour. And each man said to his 
neighbour, %% Xo wonder that these men won fame. 
How thev stand now like Giants, or Titans, or Immortals 
come down from Olympus, though many a winter has 

The Argonauts 73 

worn them, and many a fearful storm. What must they 
have been when they sailed from Iolcos, in the bloom of 
their youth, long ago ? " 

Then they went out to the garden ; and the merchant 
princes said, " Heroes, run races with us. Let us see 
whose feet are nimblest/' 

" We cannot race against you, for our limbs are stiff 
from sea : and we have lost our two swift comrades, the 
sons of the north wind. But do not think us cowards : if 
you wish to try our strength, we will shoot, and box, and 
wrestle, against any men on earth." 

And Alcinous smiled, and answered, " I believe you, 
gallant guests ; with your long limbs and broad shoulders, 
we could never match you here. For we care nothing 
here for boxing, or for shooting with the bow ; but for 
feasts, and songs, and harping, and dancing, and running 
races, to stretch our limbs on shore." 

So they danced there and ran races, the jolly merchant 
kings, till the night fell, and all went in. 

And then they ate and drank, and comforted their 
weary souls, till Alcinous called a herald, and bade him 
go and fetch the harper. 

The herald went out, and fetched the harper, and led 
him in by the hand ; and Alcinous cut him a piece of 
meat, from the fattest of the haunch, and sent it to him, 
and said, " Sing to us, noble harper, and rejoice the 
heroes' hearts." 

So the harper played and sang, while the dancers 
danced strange figures ; and after that the tumblers 
showed their tricks, till the heroes laughed again. 

74 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

Then, "Tell me, heroes," asked Alcinous, "you who 
have sailed the ocean round, and seen the manners of all 
nations, have you seen such dancers as ours here, or 
heard such music and such singing ? We hold ours to 
be the best on earth." 

" Such dancing we have never seen," said Orpheus ; 
"and your singer is a happy man, for Phoebus himself 
must have taught him, or else he is the son of a Muse, 
as I am also, and have sung once or twice, though not so 
well as he." 

"Sing to us, then, noble stranger," said Alcinous; 
"and we will give you precious gifts." 

So Orpheus took his magic harp, and sang to them a 
stirring song of their voyage from Iolcos, and their 
dangers, and how they won the golden fleece ; and of 
Medea's love, and how she helped them, and went with 
them over land and sea ; and of all their fearful dangers, 
from monsters, and rocks, and storms, till the heart of 
Arete was softened, and all the women wept And the 
merchant kings rose up, each man from off his golden 
throne, and clapped their hands, and shouted, " Hail to 
the noble Argonauts, who sailed the unknown sea ! " 

Then he went on, and told their journey over the 
sluggish northern main, and through the shoreless outer 
ocean, to the fairy island of the west ; and of the Sirens, 
and Scylla, and Charybdis, and all the wonders they had 
seen, till midnight passed and the day dawned ; but the 
kings never thought of sleep. Each man sat still and 
listened, with his chin upon his hand. 

And at last, when Orpheus had ended, they all went 

The Argonauts 75 

thoughtful out, and the heroes lay down to sleep, 
beneath the sounding porch outside, where Arete had 
strewn them rugs and carpets, in the sweet still summer 

But Arete pleaded hard with her husband for Medea, 
for her heart was softened. And she said, " The gods 
will punish her, not we. After all, she is our guest and 
my suppliant, and prayers are the daughters of Zeus. 
And who, too, dare part man and wife, after all they 
have endured together ? " 

And Alcinous smiled. "The minstrels song has 
charmed you ; but I must remember what is right, for 
songs cannot alter justice ; and I must be faithful to my 
name. Alcinous I am called, the man of sturdy sense ; 
and Alcinous I will be." But for all that Arete besought 
him, until she won him round. 

So next morning he sent a herald, and called the 
kings into the square, and said, " This is a puzzling 
matter : remember but one thing. These Minuai live 
close by us, and we may meet them often on the seas ; 
but Aietes lives afar off, and we have only heard his 
name. Which, then, of the two is it safer to offend — the 
men near us, or the men far off?'' 

The princes laughed, and praised his wisdom ; and 
Alcinous called the heroes to the square, and the Colchi 
also ; and they came and stood opposite each other, but 
Medea stayed in the palace. Then Alcinous spoke, 
" Heroes of the Colchi, what is your errand about this 
lady ? " 

44 To carry her home with us, that she may die a 

76 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

shameful death ; but if we return without her, we must 
die the death she should have died." 

4< What say you to this, Jason the yEolid?" said 
Alcinous, turning to the Minuai. 

44 1 say/' said the cunning Jason, "that they are come 
here on a bootless errand. Do you think that you can 
make her follow you, heroes of the Colchi — her, who 
knows all spells and charms ? She will cast away your 
ships on quicksands, or call down on you Brimo the wild 
huntress ; or the chains will fall from off her wrists, and 
she will escape in her dragon-car ; or if not thus, some 
other way, for she has a thousand plans and wiles. And 
why return home at all, brave heroes, and face the long 
seas again, and the Bosphorus, and the stormy Euxine, 
and double all your toil ? There is many a fair land 
round these coasts, which waits for gallant men like you. 
Better to settle there, and build a city, and let Aietes and 
Colchis help themselves." 

Then a murmur rose among the Colchi, and some 
cried, 4< He has spoken well ; " and some, " We have had 
enough of roving, we will sail the seas no more ! " And 
the chief said at last, " Be it so, then ; a plague she has 
been to us, and a plague to the house of her father, and 
a plague she will be to you. Take her, since you are no 
wiser ; and we will sail away toward the north." 

Then Alcinous gave them food and water, and gar- 
ments, and rich presents of all sorts ; and he gave the 
same to the Minuai, and sent them all away in peace. 

So Jason kept the dark witch-maiden to breed 
him woe and shame ; and the Colchi went northward 

The Argonauts 77 

into the Adriatic, and settled, and built towns along 
the shore. 

Then the heroes rowed away to the eastward to 
reach Hellas, their beloved land ; but a storm came 
down upon them, and swept them far away toward the 
south. And they rowed till they were spent with 
struggling, through the darkness and the blinding rain ; 
but where they were they could not tell, and they gave 
up all hope of life. And at last they touched the ground, 
and when daylight came they waded to the shore ; and 
saw nothing round but sand and desolate salt pools, for 
they had come to the quicksands of the Syrtis, and the 
dreary treeless flats which lie between Numidia and 
Cyrene, on the burning shore of Africa. And there they 
wandered starving for many a weary day, ere they could 
launch their ship again, and gain the open sea. And 
there Canthus was killed, while he was trying to drive off 
sheep, by a stone which a herdsman threw. 

And there too Mopsus died, the seer who knew the 
voices of all birds ; but he could not foretell his own end, 
for he was bitten in the foot by a snake, one of those 
which sprang from the Gorgon's head when Perseus 
carried it across the sands. 

At last they rowed away toward the northward, for 
many a weary day, till their water was spent, and their 
food eaten ; and they were worn out with hunger and 
thirst. But at last they saw a long steep island, and a 
blue peak high among the clouds ; and they knew it for 
the peak of Ida, and the famous land of Crete. And 
they said, "We will land in Crete, and see Minos the 

78 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

just king, and all his glory and his wealth ; at least he 
will treat us hospitably, and let us fill our water-casks 
upon the shore." 

But when they came nearer to the island they saw a 
wondrous sight upon the cliffs. For on a cape to the 
westward stood a giant, taller than any mountain pine, 
who glittered aloft against the sky like a tower of 
burnished brass. He turned and looked on all sides 
round him, till he saw the Argo and her crew ; and when 
he saw them he came toward them, more swiftly than the 
swiftest horse, leaping across the glens at a bound, and 
striding at one step from down to down. And when he 
came abreast of them he brandished his arms up and 
down, as a ship hoists and lowers her yards, and shouted 
with his brazen throat like a trumpet from off the hills, 
4 'You are pirates, you are robbers! If you dare land 
here, you die." 

Then the heroes cried, " We are no pirates. We are 
all good men and true, and all we ask is food and water ;" 
but the giant cried the more : 

"You are robbers, you are pirates all; I know you; 
and if you land, you shall die the death." 

Then he waved his arms again as a signal, and they 
saw the people flying inland, driving their flocks before 
them, while a great flame arose among the hills. Then 
the giant ran up a valley and vanished, and the heroes 
lay on their oars in fear. 

But Medea stood watching all from under her steep 
black brows, with a cunning smile upon her lips, and a 
cunning plot within her heart. At last she spoke : " I 

The Argonauts 79 

know this giant. I heard of him in the East. Hepha- 
istos the Fire King made him in his forge in iEtna 
beneath the earth, and called him Talus, and gave him 
to Minos for a servant, to guard the coast of Crete. 
Thrice a day he walks round the island, and never stops 
to sleep ; and if strangers land he leaps into his furnace, 
which flames there among the hills ; and when he is 
red-hot he rushes on them, and burns them in his brazen 

Then all the heroes cried, " What shall we do, wise 
Medea ? We must have water, or we die of thirst. Flesh 
and blood we can face fairly ; but who can face this red- 
hot brass ? " 

" I can face red-hot brass, if the tale I hear be true. 
For they say that he has but one vein in all his body, 
filled with liquid fire ; and that this vein is closed with a 
nail ; but I know not where that nail is placed. But if I 
can get it once into these hands, you shall water your 
ship here in peace." 

Then she bade them put her on shore, and row off 
again, and wait what would befall. 

And the heroes obeyed her unwillingly, for they were 
ashamed to leave her so alone ; but Jason said, " She is 
dearer to me than to any of you, yet I will trust her 
freely on shore ; she has more plots than we can dream 
of in the windings of that fair and cunning head." 

So they left the witch-maiden on the shore ; and she 
stood there in her beauty all alone, till the giant strode 
back red-hot from head to heel, while the grass hissed 
and smoked beneath his tread. 

80 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

And when he saw the maiden alone, he stopped ; and 
she looked boldly up into his face without moving, and 
began her magic song : 

" Life is short, though life is sweet ; and even men of 
brass and fire must die. The brass must rust, the fire 
must cool, for time gnaws all things in their turn. Life 
is short, though life is sweet : but sweeter to live for 
ever ; sweeter to live ever youthful like the gods, who 
have ichor in their veins — ichor which gives life, and 
youth, and joy, and a bounding heart." 

Then Talus said, " Who are you, strange maiden, and 
where is this ichor of youth ? " 

Then Medea held up a flask of crystal, and said, 
44 Here is the ichor of youth. I am Medea the enchan- 
tress ; my sister Circe gave me this, and said, ' Go and 
reward Talus, the faithful servant, for his fame is gone 
out into all lands/ So come, and I will pour this into 
your veins, that you may live for ever young." 

And he listened to her false words, that simple Talus, 
and came near ; and Medea said, " Dip yourself in the 
sea first, and cool yourself, lest you burn my tender hands ; 
then show me where the nail in your vein is, that I may 
pour the ichor in." 

Then that simple Talus dipped himself in the sea, till 
it hissed, and roared, and smoked ; and came and knelt 
before Medea, and showed her the secret nail. 

And she drew the nail out gently, but she poured no 
ichor in ; and instead the liquid fire spouted forth, like a 
stream of red-hot iron. And Talus tried to leap up, 
crying, "You have betrayed me, false witch-maiden!" 

The Argonauts 8 1 

But she lifted up her hands before him, and sang, till he 
sank beneath her spell. And as he sank, his brazen 
limbs clanked heavily, and the earth groaned beneath 
his weight : and the liquid fire ran from his heel, like a 
stream of lava, to the sea ; and Medea laughed, and 

82 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

At last, after many more adventures, they came to the 
Cape of Malea, at the south-west point of the Pelopon- 
nese. And there they offered sacrifices, and Orpheus 
purged them from their guilt Then they rode away 
again to the northward, past the Laconian shore, and 
came all worn and tired by Sunium, and up the long 
Euboean Strait, until they saw once more Pelion, and 
Aphetai, and Iolcos by the sea. 

And they ran the ship ashore ; but they had no 
strength left to haul her up the beach ; and they crawled 
out on the pebbles, and sat down, and wept till they 
could weep no more. For the houses and the trees 
were all altered ; and all the faces which they saw were 
strange ; and their joy was swallowed up in sorrow, 
while they thought of their youth, and all their labour, 
and the gallant comrades they had lost 

And the people crowded round, and asked them, 
" Who are you, that you sit weeping here ? " 

" We are the sons of your princes, who sailed out 
many a year ago. We went to fetch the golden fleece, 
and we have brought it, and grief therewith. Give us 
news of our fathers and our mothers, if any of them be 
left alive on earth." 

Then there was shouting, and laughing, and weeping ; 
and all the kings came to the shore, and they led away 
the heroes to their homes, and bewailed the valiant dead. 

Then Jason went up with Medea to the palace of his 
uncle Pelias. And when he came in Pelias sat by the 
hearth, crippled and blind with age ; while opposite him 
sat iEson, Jason's father, crippled and blind likewise; 

The Argonauts 83 

and the two old men's heads shook together as they tried 
to warm themselves before the fire. 

And Jason fell down at his fathers knees, and wept, 
and called him by his name. And the old man stretched 
his hands out, and felt him, and said, " Do not mock me, 
young hero. My son Jason is dead long ago at sea." 

" I am your own son Jason, whom you trusted to the 
Centaur upon Pelion ; and I have brought home the 
golden fleece, and a princess of the Sun's race for my 
bride. So now give me up the kingdom, Pelias my 
uncle, and fulfil your promise as I have fulfilled mine." 

Then his father clung to him like a child, and wept, 
and would not let him go ; and cried, " Now I shall not 
go down lonely to my grave. Promise me never to leave 
me till I die." 

What was the End of the Heroes 

JND now I wish that I could end my story 
pleasantly ; but it is no fault of mine that 
I cannot. The old songs end it sadly, 
and I believe that they are right and 
wise ; for though the heroes were purified 
at Malea, yet sacrifices cannot make bad hearts good, 
and Jason had taken a wicked wife, and he had to bear 
his burden to the last. 

And first she laid a cunning plot to punish that poor 
old Pelias, instead of letting him die in peace. 

For she told his daughters, " I can make old things 
young again ; I will show you how easy it is to do." So 
she took an old ram and killed him, and put him in a 
cauldron with magic herbs ; and whispered her spells 
over him, and he leapt out again a young lamb. So that 
" Medea's cauldron " is a proverb still, by which we 
mean times of war and change, when the world has 
become old and feeble, and grows young again through 
bitter pains. 

Then she said to Pelias' daughters, " Do to your father 
as I did to this ram, and he will grow young and strong 

The Argonauts 85 

again." But she only told them half the spell ; so they 
failed, while Medea mocked them ; and poor old Pelias 
died, and his daughters came to misery. But the songs 
say she cured iEson, Jason's father, and he became young 
and strong again. 

But Jason could not love her, after all her cruel deeds. 
So he was ungrateful to her, and wronged her ; and she 
revenged herself on him. And a terrible revenge she 
took — too terrible to speak of here. But you will hear 
of it yourselves when you grow up, for it has been sung 
in noble poetry and music ; and whether it be true or 
not, it stands for ever as a warning to us not to seek for 
help from evil persons, or to gain good ends by evil 
means. For if we use an adder even against our ene- 
mies, it will turn again and sting us. 

But of all the other heroes there is many a brave tale 
left, which I have no space to tell you, so you must read 
them for yourselves : — of the hunting of the boar in 
Calydon, which Meleager killed ; and of Hercules' twelve 
famous labours ; and of the seven who fought at Thebes ; 
and of the noble love of Castor and Pollux, the twin 
Dioscouroi — how when one died the other would not live 
without him, so they shared their immortality between 
them ; and Zeus changed them into the two twin stars 
which never rise both at once. 

And what became of Chiron, the good immortal beast ? 
That, too, is a sad story ; for the heroes never saw him 
more. He was wounded by a poisoned arrow, at Pholoe 
among the hills, when Hercules opened the fatal wine- 
jar which Chiron had warned him not to touch. And 

86 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

the Centaurs smelt the wine, and flocked to it, and fought 
for it with Hercules ; but he killed them all with his 
poisoned arrows, and Chiron was left alone. Then 
Chiron took up one of the arrows, and dropped it by 
chance upon his foot ; and the poison ran like fire along 
his veins, and he lay down and longed to die ; and cried, 
" Through wine I perish, the bane of all my race. Why 
should I live for ever in this agony ? Who will take my 
immortality, that I may die ? " 

Then Prometheus answered, the good Titan, whom 
Hercules had set free from Caucasus, " I will take your 
immortality and live for ever, that I may help poor 
mortal men." So Chiron gave him his immortality, and 
died, and had rest from pain. And Hercules and Pro- 
metheus wept over him, and went to bury him on 
Pelion ; but Zeus took him up among the stars, to 
live for ever, grand and mild, low down in the far 
southern sky. 


The Voyage of Maelduin 

))HIS is the story of the wanderings 
of Maelduin, and how for three years 
and seven months he was driven in 
his barque to and fro over the bound- 
less, fathomless ocean, and of the many 
strange islands and mighty wonders he encountered. 

Maelduin was the son of a goodly fighter, a hero lord 
over his clan, Ailill Edgebattle by name But, whilst 
he was yet a babe, plunderers from over sea fell upon his 
home, burnt the church of Dubhcluain, and slew his 
father therein. So his mother fled in haste and came to 
the King of Arran, and gave her babe in fostering to her 
bosom friend, the Queen. In one cradle, on one breast, 
and in one lap with the King's three sons was Maelduin 
reared, and as he grew up he thought himself their own 
brother. Yet many knew his father was slain and his 
mother a wanderer. The youth grew up tall, well-knit, 
and fair, so that of all flesh within the four brown 
quarters of this world none might match him in grace 
and beauty. Hardy he was, fresh and joyous of mood, 
well skilled in the use of weapons, and in every manly 
game and art. None like him for running, or putting 

go The Book of Wonder Voyages 

the stone ; he and his horse outraced all his com- 

On a day of days the youths of the court were 
making merry, contending in feats of strength and skill. 
Still Maelduin bore off the palm, so that at last an 
envious comrade burst out angrily: "To think that thou, 
whose clan and kindred, whose father and mother no 
man knows, should beat us at every sport, be it on land or 
water, or in moving the ivory men on the playing board ! " 

Maelduin stood silent a while, for never until then had 
he thought himself other than the son of the King and 
Queen of the land. So he came to his foster-mother and 
said, " I will neither eat nor drink till thou tellest me the 
name of my father and my mother." 

11 Why dost thou ask that ? " said she. " Heed not 
the jealous mutterings of thy companions. Am I not a 
mother to thee ? Is there among the people of this land 
a mother whose love for her son is greater than the love 
I bear to thee ? " 

"That is so," said he ; " but nevertheless I pray thee 
to make known to me the names of my parents." 

So his foster-mother told him concerning his mother, 
and delivered him into her hands. And he entreated 
her to tell him who his father was. 

But she rebuked him, saying, " My son, it will make 
thee no happier to know who he was, nor will it in any 
way profit thee. He has been dead for many and many 
a year." 

" Be that as it may/' replied he, "it were better for 
me to know." 

The Voyage of ^Maelduin 91 

She told him then that he was son to Ailill Edgebattle, 
of the kin of the Owenaght, lord of the territory of 

So Maelduin went to his father s land, to enter into 
possession of the domain that was his by right. And 
with him went his three foster-brothers, whom he loved 
dearly. A right welcome was made him by his kinsfolk, 
and they bade him be of good cheer, now he was on his 
own land and among his own people. 

On a day of days Maelduin and certain of his warriors 
were putting the stone in the graveyard of the church of 
Dubhcluain. Placing his foot on the scorched ruin wall 
of the church, Maelduin hurled the stone clear over it. 
Then Bricone, the poison-tongued, laughed and said 
aloud : 

44 Better it were to avenge the man slain here than to 
cast stones over his bare burnt bones." 

44 Of whom speakest thou ? " asked Maelduin. 

"OfAilill, thy father." 

44 Who slew him ?" 

44 Plunderers from over sea, men of Leix, here on this 

Great was the sorrow of Maelduin. Putting down the 
stone he held ready for the cast, he girded on his 
armour, flung his mantle around him, and eagerly 
inquired by what way he might reach Leix. 44 By sea 
alone," said the guide. 

So he was minded to go first into the country of 
Corcomroe, the land of Nuca the wizard, and to beg of 
him a charm and a blessing for the boat he should 

92 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

afterwards build. Charms and blessings the wizard gave 
him, and instructed him when he should begin to build, 
and when to put out to sea, and how many men he 
should take with him. And he charged him straitly that 
there should be seventeen, neither more nor less, and he 
laid a curse upon him if his charge were disobeyed. 

The boat that was built was of wicker work, of eight 
thwarts, covered with three-fold ox-hide of hard bark- 
soaked red leather. Then Maelduin gathered together 
his men, and among them were German and Diuran the 

On the day appointed by the wizard they hoisted the 
flapping, many-coloured sail to the tall, tough mast, and 
they put forth to sea. But when they had gone a little way 
they were roused by the cries of Maelduin's three foster- 
brothers, who stood upon the beach and called them back. 

"Go home," said Maelduin, " I may not carry a larger 
number than are now in the boat." 

44 If thou wilt not come back for us, we will follow thee 
into the sea, though we drown." 

Saying which they cast themselves into the water, and 
struck out boldly from the shore. When Maelduin saw 
that, he bade turn the boat's head, and put back, taking 
them into the boat for fear they be drowned. But his 
heart was heavy, for he thought of the wizards curse. 

THEY rowed until eve, and ceased not for nightfall. 
About midnight they were nigh two small and 
barren islets, on which were two forts. Thence came 

The Voyage of ZMaelduin 93 

through the night a noise, great and uproarious, of men 
drinking and boasting them of the spoils they had won. 
As they lay for a while on their oars and listened, there 
was heard the voice of a hero. " Stand off from me, for 
I am a better man than thou. I it was slew Ailill 
Edgebattle and burnt the church of Dubhcluain over his 
head, and his kin have never dared avenge it on me. 
Hast thou ever done the like of such a deed ? " 

Great was the joy and fierce the exultation of 
Maelduin and his companions. " Truly the victory is 
ours," said Diuran the rhymer, "and God has led us 
here, steering the bark Himself. Let us land and 
utterly destroy these forts." 

But even as they spoke there arose a great wind and 
drove them out to sea, far beyond sight or ken of land, 
into the midst of the huge and endless ocean. " Cease 
rowing," said Maelduin, "and let the boat drift as it will. 
Whithersoever it shall please God, there let us be 
brought." Then turning to his foster-brothers, "You it 
is who have caused this trouble by joining yourselves to 
us in spite of the wizards word that seventeen, neither 
more nor less, was to be our number. Of a surety more 
evil will come of this." 

They made no answer save to be silent a while. 

FOR three days and three nights they tossed upon the 
sea, finding neither land nor ground. But on the 
morning of the third day they heard a sound from the 
north-east "It is the voice of a wave against the 

g4 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

shore." said Maelduin. When the sun rose and the day 
brightened they rowed towards the noise and put in close 
to shore. Lots were cast to decide which among them 
should visit the strange land ; but even as they were 

making ready to leave the boat, behold a great swarm of 
ants, and every ant the size of a foal. They swarmed 
down to the beach, into the very sea, making as though 
they would devour alike men and boat. Then Maelduin 
and his men were sore affrighted and pushed off hastily 

The Voyage of ZMaelduin 95 

and with oar and sail made what speed they could. Nor 
did they cease for three days and nights ; and all this 
while they had no sight of land. 

ON the morn of the fourth day they came to another 
island, great in size, and of sandy soil. As they 
neared it to scan more closely what manner of land this 
might be, they beheld standing upon the shore a very mar- 
vellous beast. In shape it was like a horse, but it had the 
legs of a hound, and on its feet were talons long and rough 
and sharp. It pranced and gambolled upon the beach as 
though overjoyed to see the wanderer, but in its heart it 
was minded to devour them should they land. " I do 
not like this beast," said Maelduin ; " methinks he is too 
pleased to see us ; we had better leave this island." So 
they turned the boat's head and made what speed they 
might But when the beast saw them departing it was 
enraged, and, digging up the beach with its sharp talons, 
it pelted them so violently with stones and rocks that it 
was all they could do to get out of reach. Nevertheless, 
pulling strongly, they won the open sea and so escaped 
this danger. 

AFTER rowing long and afar, and hastily, they sighted 
a large flat island. Lots were cast who should land, 
and bring back tidings of the country. The lot fell to 
German, who was little pleased at the task when he thought 
of the gigantic ants and the taloned monster they had met 

96 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

with on the other islands. Then said his comrade, 
Diuran the rhymer, " I will accompany thee this time, 
and when the lot falls to me, thou shalt be my comrade." 
So they set forth together. Long was the island, and 
wide, and in the midst an immense open green. Upon 
this green were to be seen many hoof-prints of horses, 
and these were very large, every hoof-print as big as a 
ships sail. Moreover, lying on the ground were nuts 
as big as headpieces, and remains of all kinds, vast and 
monstrous in size, as though giants had gone a-plundering 
and left their scattered spoil. So German and Diuran 
were much afraid, and, calling to their comrades in the 
boat to behold these things, they hastily returned, and 
sail was set that they might flee swiftly if need be. 

Hardly had they stood a little way off the land when 
they beheld the rush of a mighty multitude along the 
beach and on to the open green, and the racing of 
horses against each other. Swifter than the wind was 
each horse, clamorous and deafening were the outcry 
and the din of the multitude. Maelduin and his men lay 
on their oars wondering, and they heard clearly the 
swish of the whips, and the thud of the horses' hoofs, 
and the eager shouting of the assembled throng, " Hither 
the grey steed." " Drive the dun horse there ! " " Come 
on with the white horse ! " " Mine is the fastest steed ! " 
"My horse is the best jumper!" So the wanderers 
tarried no longer, but set sail hastily, for they felt sure it 
was a gathering of demons they beheld. 

The Voyage of ^Maelduin 97 

AF U LL week were they voyaging in hunger and thirst, 
until at last they chanced upon a great island, rising 
high out of the waves, on the seashore of which stood a 
huge house. The house had two doorways, one opening 
on to the island, the other on to the sea. Now, the latter 
was partly of stone, and it was pierced by a hole, through 
which the waves, as they dashed up against the door, flung 
salmon into the house. Here, thought Maelduin, we shall 
find food ; so he and his men entered the house, but it was 
empty. A testered bed there was, evidently the chiefs, 
and a bed for every three men of the household, and 
before each bed were placed food, a glass vessel containing 
good liquor, and a glass goblet So they dined off the 
food and liquor and thanked God, who had helped them 
to satisfy their hunger. But as the inmates of the house 
did not make their appearance, they decided to set sail 

And this they did ; but after a while their provisions 
gave out, and they hungered greatly, until they came to 
another island with a high cliff round it on every side, in 
which could be seen a long narrow wood. Now, as 
Maelduin passed the wood, which came down to the 
waters edge, he took a branch from a tree and kept it 
in his hand three days and three nights while the boat 
was coasting the cliff. On the third day there was a 
cluster of three apples at the end of the branch, and 
no apple but satisfied the hunger of the crew for forty 


g 8 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

HP HE next island they sighted had a fence of stone 
■1 around it. They drew near to spy it out more 
closely, and when they had landed and gone a little way 

inland, there sprang up a huge beast, which began to race 
round the island. Swifter than the rush of the cold wind 
of March seemed its racing to Maelduin. When it was 
tired of racing it stood on a peak, which towered up in 
the centre of the island, and many and marvellous were 

The Voyage of 3\4aelduin 99 

the feats it performed ; it would put its head down, 
throw its legs up in the air, and turn and whirl around 
the bones of its body, while the skin never moved ; or 
again it would make its skin revolve like a mill-wheel. 

whilst flesh and bones remained still. When Maelduin 
and his crew perceived the strange and horrible antics of 
this monster they were seized with dread, and fled 
hastily, whereupon the monster followed them to the 
beach, and hurled stones after them, and would fain 
have seized and devoured them. It was but a narrow 

i oo The Book of Wonder Voyages 

escape they had, for one of the stones pierced through 
Maelduin's shield and lodged in the keel of the boat 

AND now the wanderers were sad, complaining and 
feeble, for they knew not whither in the world they 
were going, or in what land they might find rest or aid. 
Weary and hopeless were they, sad and sighing when 
they had at last sight of another island. Many trees 
could be seen ; and what pleased the wanderers greatly, 
they were full of fruit, with great golden apples hanging 
from every bough. And that the apples were good to 
eat they could soon discern. For beneath the trees lay 
short, red-coloured animals, like to swine in shape, and at 
times they stood up and struck the trees with their hind- 
legs, and greedily devoured the apples that fell. Strange 
were the ways of these beasts. From dawn to sunset they 
hid in caverns underground, but at sunset they came 
forth to feed, and as they did so many flocks of birds 
flew in from the sea and perched in the branches of the 
trees and fed on their fruit. 

When Maelduin saw these things, "surely," thought 
he, " if the beasts and birds can feed so can we." So 
two of the crew were landed. But the ground was hot 
under their feet and it was not possible for them to 
remain long there. For the land was a fiery one, heated 
by the animals that dwell in the caverns underground 
They could but gather hastily as many apples as possible 
and these they brought back to the boat, and the crew 
regaled themselves upon them. Great was the virtue of 

The Voyage of ZMaelduin 101 

these apples, for whoso ate them lacked neither food 
nor drink. On the morrow they landed again, and after 
loading their boat with as many apples as they could 
pluck ere the soles of their feet were burnt, they again 
set sail. 

After a while the apples failed, and great hunger and 
thirst seized upon them afresh. Nor were they other- 
wise in a good plight, for the sea gave forth an evil 
stench, which filled their mouths and noses. 

GLAD they were to come to an island, wherein was a 
fort surrounded by a white, high rampart, that 
looked as if it were a chalk rock or were built of burnt lime. 
Great was its height from the sea ; it all but touched the 
clouds. The fort was wide open, and round the outer 
rampart were great snow-white houses. They entered the 
largest of these and saw no one there, save a small cat, 
which played in the midst thereof on four stone pillars, 
leaping from one to the other. It glanced at the men, 
but never ceased its play. The wall of the house, which 
reached from one doorpost to the other, was furnished 
with three rows. The first was of gold and silver brooches 
fastened to the wall by their pins ; the second of gold and 
silver necklaces, each as large as a vat hoop ; and the 
third of gold and silver hiked swords. About the rooms 
lay white quilts and garments of shining hue. There 
were, moreover, a roasted ox, a flitch, and vessels full of 
sweet, heady ale. " Hath this been left for us ? " asked 
Maelduin of the cat. The creature looked at him 

102 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

suddenly, and then resumed its play. So Maelduin 
knew that the food was for them. And they ate and 
drank and slept. What was left of the food they stored 
up to take with them. When they were about to depart 
Maelduins foster-brother said : 

14 Shall I not take with me one of the necklaces ? " 
44 Nay," said Maelduin, "the house is well guarded." 
Howbeit, the foster-brother took the necklace, and 
carried it as far as the middle of the enclosure. But 
thither the cat followed them, leapt through the thief like 
a fiery arrow, and burnt him to ashes, after which it 
returned to its pillar. And Maelduin soothed it with fair 
words, and put the necklace back in its place, and 
cleansed the floor of the ashes, which he cast forth on 
the shore of the sea. 

Then they went on board, praising and magnifying 

NOW, on the third day after this, they came in the early 
morning to another island, in the midst of which 
was a brass palisade that divided it into two. On either 
side of the fence was a flock of sheep, black on the one 
side, on the other white, and in the midst thereof was a 
big man who kept the flocks apart. When he flung a 
white sheep among the black it became black, and when 
he flung a black sheep among the white it became white. 
This terrified the men in the boat Then said Mael- 
duin : 

44 Let us throw two rods on the island, and if they 

The Voyage of ZMaelduin 103 

change colour it shall be a sign unto us that we too 
would change colour if we land." 

So they flung a black-barked rod among the white 
sheep, and it immediately became white. In like manner 
they threw a peeled white rod among the black sheep, 
whereupon it became black at once. So Maelduin would 
not land lest their colour should fare no better than that 
of the rods. 

And they departed in terror. 

ON the third day afterwards they espied an island, 
great and wide, upon which were a herd of beautiful 
swine. Of these they killed a small pig, but, being 
unable to carry it to be roasted, they cooked it there and 
bore it to their boat. 

On the island was a lofty mountain, from which they 
thought they would like to view the land. So Diuran 
the rhymer and German went thither, and, flowing at 
its base, was a broad shallow river. German dipped the 
handle of his spear into the water, and straightway it was 
consumed as if by fire. They went no further in that 
direction. Moreover, they saw on the other side of the 
river great hornless oxen, among which sat a huge man. 
German clashed his spear-shaft against his shield to 
frighten the animals. 

** Why dost thou frighten the silly calves ? " asked the 
huge man. 

44 If these are calves, where are their dams?" said 

1 04 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

i% On the other side of yonder mountain," he replied. 

Then they deemed this was no land for them to stay 
in, and, having hastened back to the boat, they re- 
ported these marvels, and Maelduin bid hoist the sail and 
lay to with the oars, arid they departed speedily. 

NOT long thereafter they came to an island upon 
which dwelt a miller, vast of bulk and hideous of 
aspect ; and if he was hideous, still more hideous was his 

" What mill may this be ? " asked the wayfarers. 

Then he made reply : 

44 Whatever in broad Erin, and in all the four brown 
quarters of the globe, is not given cheerfully and with a 
willing heart is ground here. And truly, I tell you, half 
of the corn of Erin passes through my mill." 

Even as he spoke they saw countless laden horses and 
human beings bending under the weight of heavy sacks, 
and all were going to and from the mill. And ever the 
unground corn came from the east, and ever the ground 
corn was carried westward. 

They marvelled greatly at these things. 

44 What is the name of thy mill ? " asked they again. 

Then he told them it was the mill of Hell. 

Thereupon they crossed themselves with the sign of 
Christ's cross, and departed in their boat. 

The Voyage of [Maelduin 105 

THEN they came to a large island peopled with many 
human beings, black in body and raiment. They 
wore fillets round their heads, and they rested not from 

Lots were cast as to who should land, and the unlucky 
lot fell to one of Maelduin's two foster-brothers. He 
went on shore, and when he mingled with the wailing 
people he at once became as one of them, and wept and 
wailed too. Maelduin would fain have rescued him, and 
sent two of his men to bring him away, but they could 
not recognise him, and they also began to lament and 
bemoan themselves. 

Said Maelduin : 

41 Let four of you go with weapons and force them to 
come. Cover your faces with your garments, look not 
at the land, breathe not the air thereof, and keep your 
eyes fixed upon your own men." 

So they went and brought back the other two by 
force, but the foster-brother had become one of the 
wailers, and him they could not save. When they 
inquired of the rescued ones what they had seen in the 
land, they replied : 

" Verily, we know not. What we saw others doing, 
we did." 

Then they swiftly left the island. 

THEREAFTER they came to another lofty island, 
divided into four parts by fences. Golden was the 
first fence, silver the next, brass the third, crystal the 

106 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

fourth. Kings dwelt in one division, queens in another, 
warriors in the third, and in the fourth maidens alone. As 
they neared the land a maiden came to meet them, and 
brought them on shore, when she entertained them and 
gave them food. It was like cheese in taste, but the 
flavour thereof was such that each man thought he was 
eating what he best liked. She gave them sweet, heady 
ale from a small vessel, the strength of which caused 
them to sleep three days and three nights. Where 
they awoke on the third day was in their boat, on 
the open sea, and they could see neither island nor 

SO they hoisted the sail and plied their oars, and 
voyaged onwards until they came to a small island, 
wherein was a fortress with a brass door on which were 
brass fastenings. A bridge of glass rose from the door, 
and when they essayed to mount it they fell down back- 
wards. They were wearied of trying, when at last they 
saw a woman come out from the fortress, and in her hand 
a pail, which she filled with water from the fountain that 
flowed beneath the bridge. Then she turned back to 
the fortress. 

44 That were a housekeeper for Maelduin," said 

44 Much care I for Maelduin," quoth she, and closed the 
door behind her. 

Then they were angered, and began to shake the 
brazen fastenings of the door ; but the sound which they 

The Voyage of ^Maelduin 107 

made was a sweet, soothing music, which caused them 
to sleep till the next morning. 

On awaking they saw the same woman with the pail, 
which she filled in the same manner as before. 

"'Tis indeed a housekeeper for Maelduin," said 

"As if I cared for Maelduin," said she, and shut the 
door after her. 

And again they were lulled to sleep by the sweet fairy 
music of the brazen door till the morrow. 

Thus it continued for three days and three nights. 
On the fourth day the woman crossed the bridge and 
came to meet them. Beautiful indeed was she. A circlet 
of gold bound her golden hair. Silver sandals clad her 
rosy feet. A gold studded silver brooch fastened her 
mantle, and a filmy silken smock lay next her white skin. 

" I bring thee greeting, Maelduin," said she. And 
then she named each of the crew by his own name. "It 
is long since your coming here hath been known and 
expected," she went on. 

Then she led them to a large house near the sea, and 
bade them haul their boat on shore. Within the house 
was a couch for Maelduin alone, and one for every three 
of his people. She brought them food like unto cheese, 
of which she gave a portion to every three. And the 
savour thereof was such as each desired to find therein. 
But she served Maelduin apart She filled her pail at the 
same place and dealt them liquor, a portion for every 
three. She knew when they had had enough, and then 
ceased to serve them. 

i o 8 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

And every man said she would be a fitting wife for 

Then she took her vessel and pail and left them. 

And Maelduins people said to him, " Shall we ask her 
if she would marry thee ? " 

" Just as you will," said he. 

When she came next day they asked her if she would 
love Maelduin and marry him. 

" On the morrow," said she, " you shall be 

So, after they had eaten and drunk, they laid them 
down to sleep, but when they awoke they were in their 
boat on a crag, and they saw neither the island, nor 
the fortress, nor the lady, nor the place where they 
had been. 

THEY rowed further, till they came to another island, 
upon which were many trees, wherein dwelt 
numbers of birds. Landing, they met a man clothed 
solely with his own hair. They asked him who he was, 
and whence his kindred. And he answered : 

" I am of the men of Ireland. I went forth on a 
pilgrimage in a small boat, which split under me when I 
had gone but a little way from land. But I was unwilling 
to give up my intent of pilgrimage and put back to shore, 
and there put a sod of my country's earth under my feet, 
and upon it I ventured again to sea. Now, the Lord set 
that sod for me in this place, and enlargeth it by a foot 
ever}' year, and addeth a tree to grow therein. The 

The Voyage of ^Maelduin 109 

birds which you behold in the trees are the souls of my 
children and kindred who await their doomsday. Angels 
are sent to feed me daily with half a cake, a slice of fish, 
and liquor from the well. Whey or water on Fridays 
and Wednesdays ; sweet milk on Sundays and martyrs' 
feasts ; but on the Apostles' feast-days and those of 
Mary and John the Baptist, bright ale and wine. At 
noon every soul yonder receiveth the same, enough for 

And when the old man had entertained them for three 
nights they bade him farewell. And ere they departed 
he said unto them : " All of you shall reach your country, 

save one." 

WHEN they had been a long while tossing on the 
waves of the sea, they saw afar off an island, and 
as they drew near they heard the noise of smiths smiting 
iron on the anvil with sledges. The din each man made 
was as if three or four were smiting at once. As 
Maelduin and his men came nigh the shore they heard 
one man asking of the other : 

" Are they close at hand ? " 

" Yea." 

" Who are coming here ? " asked a third man. 

" Little boys in a cockle-shell. " 

Maelduin said, " Let us retreat, but let us not turn the 
boat, but keep her stern foremost, that they might not 
perceive we are fleeing." 

So they rowed away with the boat stern foremost. 

no The Book of Wonder Voyages 

In a little while the man in the forge asked: "Are 
they in the harbour now ? " And the watchman replied 
that they were at anchor. 

Shortly after the forge-man again inquired what they 
were doing. The look-out man replied, " I think they 
are running away, as they seem to be further from the 
port than they were a short time ago." Upon that the 
smith came out of the forge, holding by the tongs a huge 
mass of glowing iron, which he threw after the boat. 
By good fortune it did not reach the vessel, but the sea 
hissed and boiled where it fell. As for the warriors, 
they swiftly fled into mid-ocean. 

AFTER that they voyaged until they came to a sea, 
thin and misty like a cloud, so that it seemed as if it 
could not support their boat. As they sailed over, it was 
transparent to their gaze, and they beheld underneath it 
roofed strongholds and a beautiful country. Also they 
saw a huge, monstrous beast, in a tree that was sur- 
rounded by herds and flocks, beside which sat a man 
armed with shield, spear, and sword. And when the 
armed man beheld the beast he immediately fled. As 
for the beast, it seized the largest ox of the herd, and, 
dragging it into the tree, devoured it in the twinkling of 
an eye ; upon that flocks and herds took to flight 
When Maelduin and his people saw these things they 
were yet more terrified, for they feared they should 
never cross this sea without falling through it, so fine 
and vapour like-was it 

The Voyage of ZMaelduin 


Only after much danger did they succeed in skimming 
its surface. 

NOW a strange thing was to be seen on the next 
island they came to, a great stream rising out of the 
beach, and arching rainbow-wise over the whole land, 
until it fell into the beach on the opposite side. To and 
fro the wanderers passed underneath the stream without 
being wet. And when they pierced the arch with their 
spears huge salmon came tumbling down in such vast 
numbers that the whole island was filled with the evil 
smell of the fish, nor could they gather them all because 
of their abundance. 

From Sunday at eventide to Monday forenoon the 
stream was at rest. When Maelduin and his people had 
filled their boat with the largest salmon they continued 
their journey on the ocean. 

THUS they voyaged till they came to a great silver 
column standing in mid-ocean. It had four sides, each 
of which measured two oar-strokes wide, so that the com- 
pass of the whole was eight oar-strokes. There was not a 
sod of earth about this column, only the boundless ocean. 
Its base could not be seen, nor could its summit, so high 
did it tower above the sea. A silver net hung down 
from the summit, through a single mesh of which the 
boat went, under full sail. And as they passed through 
it Diuran struck the mesh with the edge of his spear. 

ii2 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

" Destroy not the net," said Maelduin, " for what we see 
is the work of mighty men." But Diuran replied that 
he did it to the glory of God, and that his story might 
be the more believed ; and he vowed if he ever reached 
Ireland he would offer this piece of mesh on the high 
altar of Armagh. 

And they heard a voice from the summit of the pillar, 
mighty, clear and distinct. But they knew not the 
language it spake, nor did they understand the words it 

THEREAFTER they came to a large island wherein 
was a great plain surmounted by a vast tableland, 
heatherless, but grassy and smooth. Near the sea rose a 
high, strong fortress, and therein a goodly furnished house, 
where dwelt seventeen maidens. Maelduin and his men 
landed and sat on a hillock before the fort. And as they 
sat, behold a rider on a race-horse came to the fortress. 
She was arrayed in a blue hood, a purple -bordered 
mantle, and she wore gold embroidered gloves. Sandals 
were on her feet, and the horse-cloth of her seat was 
finely adorned. As she alighted one of the maidens led 
her horse away, and she entered the fortress. Shortly 
after this, one of the maidens came out to welcome them 
and invite them to the fort in the queens name. So 
they entered and made merry with the queen and her 
maidens. Good food and wine were served them, a 
platter and drinking vessel for every three men, and one 
apart for Maelduin. The next morning, when they were 

The Voyage of Maelduin 113 

about to depart the queen said, " Stay here and old age 
shall not fall on you, but you shall keep the age you now 
have ; lasting life shall be yours alway, and every joy 
and delight. Why then go wandering longer from 
island to island over the wide and barren ocean ? " 

" Tell us," then said Maelduin, " how came you here ? " 
And she said : " There dwelt a good man on this isle, 
and king he was of it. I was his wife and these 
seventeen maidens are our children. Now, when the 
king died and left no heir, I took the kingship and go 
daily to the great plain to judge the folk and decide their 

They abode in that island for the three winter months, 
and it seemed to them they were three years. And one 
of his people said unto Maelduin : " We have been here 
a long time ; why do we not return to our own land ? " 

But Maelduin was unwilling, and replied, " In our own 
land we shall not find aught better than we have 

Then the people began to murmur greatly, saying : 
" Great is the love which Maelduin bears to the queen. 
Let him stay with her if he pleases, but we will go back 
to our own country." 

" I will not stay after you," answered Maelduin. 

So one day when the queen was busy at the judgment- 
seat, they launched the boat and hoisted the many- 
coloured sail to the tall, tough mast and went on board. 
But ere they cleared the land she came riding hastily, and 
threw a clew after them that clung to Maelduin's hand as 
he caught it And the thread of the clew was in her 


H4 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

hand, and by it she drew the boat unto her, back to the 

Thereafter they sojourned with her thrice three months. 
Then Maelduin's people took counsel together, saying : 
" Now we are sure Maelduin loves the queen more than 
us. That is why he catches the clew, that it may cleave 
to his hand, and we be brought back to the fortress." 

And Maelduin answered them : " Let another catch 
the clew, and if it cling to his hand, let his hand be 
cut off." 

So they went on board again, and again the queen 
came and flung the clew after them. This time it was 
caught by another man, to whose hand it clung. But 
Diuran cut off the hand, and it fell with the clew into the 
sea. When the queen saw this she began to wail and 
shriek, so that all the land w r as one cry, wail and 

Thus it was they escaped from her, and from the 

AND for a long time they tossed about on the waves 
until they came to an island whereon were planted 
trees, like willow or hazel, upon which grew marvellous 
fruit, like large berries. They stripped one small tree 
and cast lots who should first taste the fruit. The lot fell 
to Maelduin. He squeezed some of the berries into a 
vessel and drank the juice, and it cast him into a deep 
sleep from that hour till the same hour on the morrow. 
As he lay with the red foam on his lips, they knew not 

The Voyage of ^Maelduin 115 

till he awoke whether it was slumber or whether it was 
death. Then he said : " Gather this fruit, for great is its 

So they gathered all the fruit of the land, filling their 
vessels with its juice, and mingling it with water to 
moderate its strength, and then they rowed away. 

TH HE RE AFTER they land on another large island. 
A Part of it was overgrown with yew- and oak-wood ; 
the rest was a plain, in the midst of which was a small 
lake, with great herds of sheep feeding in the surrounding 
meadows. There were besides on the island a church 
and a fortress. They entered the church and found 
therein a cleric, ancient and grey, whose sole clothing was 
his own hair. Maelduin inquired of him whence he came. 

" I am the fifteenth man of the community of the 
blessed Brendan," replied he. "We went forth on our 
pilgrimage into the vast and boundless ocean and we 
came to this island. And of the fifteen men all have 
died save I alone." 

Then he showed them the tablet of the blessed 
Brendan, which they had taken with them on their 
pilgrimage. And the travellers bowed themselves before 
it, and Maelduin kissed it. 

" Now," said the old man, " eat your fill of the sheep 
for food, but take no more than it needs to appease your 

So they abode there for a season, feeding on the flesh 
of the sheep and worshipping with the cleric. One day 

1 1 6 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

as they were gazing seawards they perceived what 
seemed a cloud coming towards them, from the south- 
west, but on its nearer approach they saw by the waving 
of its wings that it was a bird. It came to the island and 
perched on a hill near the lake. And they feared lest it 
might bear them in its talons out to sea. It brought 
with it a branch bigger than one of the great oaks which 

grew upon the island, covered with large twigs, green 
leaves, and bearing heavy abundant fruit, red berries like 
to grapes, only larger in size. It seemed weary, and 
rested, eating of the fruit. Maeldum and his men 
approached cautiously lest it might harm them. Then 
they drew nearer and began to gather berries off the 
branch, but the bird neither moved nor heeded them. 
At noon two great eagles came flying from the south- 

The Voyage of ZMaelduin 117 

west and lit down in front of the bird, and began to 
preen and cleanse its feathers. This they continued to 
do until even, when they began to eat of the berries off 
the branch. The next morn until midday they passed in 
tending the bird, preening and cleansing its feathers. 
At midday they ceased from their task and, perching on 
the branch, stripped the berries from it, broke them with 
their beaks against the stones, and cast them into the 
lake. And with the foam of the berries the water was 
dyed a deep red. Then went the bird and bathed in the 
lake until the close of the day, when it perched in 
another place on the same hill. 

On the morrow the eagles returned and sleeked its 
plumage as if it were done with a comb. At midday 
they rested a little, and then flew off to that quarter 
of the heavens whence they had come. But the great 
bird remained, shaking his pinions, until the third day, 
when it soared up and flew thrice round the island, 
alighting for a little while on the same hill. Then it 
flew towards the land whence it came with a speed 
swifter and stronger than before. Wherefore it was 
manifest to all that to it had been restored the gift of 
youth, and through it the word of the prophet had been 
fulfilled : Thy youth shall be renewed like t/ie eagles. 

Then Diuran wondered greatly and said, " Let us go 
bathe in the lake and make ourselves young even as the 
bird has done." And when one of his comrades would 
have dissuaded him, fearing the venom left by the bird in 
the lake, he still persisted, saying that he would go 

1 1 8 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

So he plunged in and bathed and drank of the water. 
And from that time forth until the end of his life he 
suffered from neither weakness nor infirmity, his eyesight 
was passing strong, nor did he lose a tooth from his jaw 
or a hair from his head. 

AFTER bidding farewell to that ancient man, and 
taking with them a provision of sheep, they came to 
an island around which ran a moving fiery rampart. In 
the side of the rampart was an open doorway. And 
whenever this doorway, as it turned around the island, 
came opposite to them they could see through it the 
whole island, and all its indwellers, even human beings, 
beautiful, abundant, wearing adorned garments and 
feasting with golden vessels in their hands. Pleasant 
was it to hearken unto their drinking songs, and long did 
the wanderers gaze upon this marvel, from which they 
might hardly depart, so delightful was it. 

NOT long after this they saw among the waves a 
shape like unto that of a white bird. They turned 
the prow of the boat into it southward, and on drawing 
nearer they perceived it to be a man clothed solely in 
his own white hair, kneeling on a broad rock. 

And they entreated a blessing from him, and asked 
him whence he came. 

" From Torach," replied he; "there I was reared. I 
was cook unto a church ; but I was an evil cook, for I 

The Voyage of ZMaelduin 119 

sold the food of my brethren for treasures and jewels, so 
that my house became full of costly stuffs and raiment, 
of brazen pails and small brazen goblets, of brooches of 
silver and pins of gold. Truly nothing was lacking in 
my house of all the things which men hoard, and I had 
golden books and book-covers adorned with brass and 
gold. Besides this, I would dig under the houses of the 
church and rob them of their treasures. 

"Thus I grew proud and haughty, thinking of my riches 
and spoils, and would no longer be cook unto my brethren. 
So I put forth to sea in a new boat of tanned hide. But I 
first emptied my house of its treasures and filled my new 
vessel therewith. When I set sail the sea was calm, but 
great winds arose and drove me into mid-ocean, far 
beyond sight of land, and there my boat stood still, 
moving not. 

"As I looked about me, I beheld a man sitting upon a 
wave, who inquired of me whither I was bound. And he 
told me I should be sorrowful and full of terror if I knew 
the band that surrounded me ; for a crowd of demons 
encircled me on every side because of my covetousness 
and my pride, my haughtiness, thefts, and other evil 
deeds. Then he told me that my boat should remain 
motionless until I did his will ; and his will was that I 
should fling all my treasures into the sea. 

44 So I flung all into the waters save a small wooden 
cup. Then he gave me whey-water and seven cakes, 
and bade me go whither wind and wave carried me. I 
minded his words, and following the will of my boat, was 
finally landed upon this crag. Seven years was I here, 

120 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

living on the seven cakes and whey-water given me by 
the man who sent me from him. Nor had I any other 
food. When that came to an end I fasted for three 
days, at the end of which, at the hour of noon, an otter 
brought me a salmon out of the sea. But as I could not 
eat it raw I threw it back into the water, and fasted for 
another three days. On the third day the otter brought 
me the salmon again and another otter brought a piece 
of flaming firewood, and set it down and blew with its 
breath, so that the fire blazed up. Thereon I cooked 
the fish, and have lived on such food for another seven 
years. And at the end of that time the fish supply 
ceased and I fasted again for the space of three days. 
Then on the third noon half a wheaten cake and a piece 
of fish were cast up and a cup of good liquor came to 
me. Thus I receive food every day. And neither wind 
nor wet, nor heat nor cold affects me." 

Now when the hour of noon arrived, half a cake and a 
piece of fish came for every man, and in the cup which 
stood before the cleric was found each mans fill of good 
liquor. And the cleric spake to them : " You will all 
reach your country save one man. And you, Maelduin, 
will find the man who slew your father in a fortress. 
Slay him not but forgive him, for God hath saved you 
from many great perils, and ye, too, are men deserving 

Then they bade him farewell and resumed their 

The Voyage of ^Maelduin 121 

HP HEY drove forth over the ocean until they came to 
A an island wherein was a great level plain, and on 
this plain a vast multitude playing and laughing without 
stay or pause. Lots were cast by Maelduin and his men 
to see unto whom it should fall to enter the island and 
explore it, and the lot fell upon the third of Maelduin's 
foster-brethren. So he left the boat, but no sooner had 
he set foot to ground when he, too, began to play and 
laugh without ceasing. In vain did his comrades call 
him back. He leapt and laughed and sang as though 
all his life he had been one of the islanders. So after 
waiting a long time they put forth again, sorrowful to 
leave him. But he never stayed from his merry play 
and joyous laughter. 

Then was fulfilled the doom of Nuca the wizard that 
only Maelduin and the seventeen appointed comrades 
should win back in safety to the land of their birth. 

AFTER this they came to an island filled with cattle, 
oxen, kine, and sheep. There were neither houses 
nor forts therein, so they fed on the sheep. Then some of 
them espied a large falcon, which they declared to be like 
the falcons of Ireland. So they agreed to watch whither 
it went, and when it flew to the south-east they rowed 
after it until even, when they sighted land like unto 
Ireland. Rowing towards it they found it to be the very 
island from which they had been driven by the wind, and 
thereon were the slayers of Ailill, Maelduin's father. 
There they landed, and, going to the fortress where 

122 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

the inhabitants were dining, listened at the door to their 

One man said, " It would be well if we do not see 
Maelduin." "That Maelduin," said another, "hath 
been drowned." " But," said a third, "mayhap it will be 
he who will wake you out of your sleep." "What 
should we do if he came now ? " asked a fourth. To 
that the chief replied, " We would welcome him gladly, 
for indeed he has suffered long." Thereat Maelduin 
struck the knocker against the door. 

" Who is there ? " said the doorkeeper. 

" Maelduin," replied he. 

"Then open," said the chief, "for thou art welcome." 

Thus they were gladly welcomed, and gifts of new 
raiment were made them. Then they told of the 
marvels God had shown them, according to the word of 
the sacred poet who saith : 

" This, too, it shall please thee to bear in mind" 

■"THEREAFTER Maelduin went to his own district, 
* and his tribe and kinsmen joyed greatly at his 
coming, and Diuran the rhymer took the five half-ounces 
of silver he had brought from the net and laid them on 
the altar of Armagh, exulting in the miracles and wonders 
God had wrought for them. They narrated their adven- 
tures from beginning to end, their perils and dangers by 
sea and land, and Aed the fair, chief poet of Ireland, 
wrote them down, that the men of Ireland might delight 
in them for ever. 


Hasan of Bassorah 

j\N days of yore, there lived a merchant 
in the Land of Bassorah who died and 
left two sons, who divided his estate 
between them. The elder of these 
was named Hasan, a youth of great 
beauty and comeliness, who soon dissipated all the 
wealth he had inherited from his father in feasts and 
frolics. At last, when he had exhausted all his property 
he met a friend of his father, who recommended him to 
learn a trade, and he learnt the trade of a goldsmith. 
One day as he sat in his booth in the bazaar there came 
to him an old Persian with a great white beard, and 
white turban on his head, and he looked upon Hasan's 
work and asked him his name. 

" Hasan," said the young man. Then the old man 
said, " My son, thou art a comely youth. Thou hast no 
sire, and I have no son, and I know an art than which 
there is none more goodly ; to none have I imparted it, 
but I am willing to teach it to thee and make thee my 
son, so that thou mayest be free from all fear of poverty." 
Then Hasan asked, "What is this art thou wouldst 
teach me ? " 

126 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

Then the P« 

said. "O Hasan, 

the crucible 

and apply the bellows." 

And when he had done so and lighted the charcoal, 
the Persian said. "Hast thou any copper?" And he 
replied. " I have a broken bowl." So he bade him cut 
it i a | • with the shears and cast it into the crucible and 

blow up the fire with the bellows. And when the 
copper became liquid he put his hand to his turban and 
took from it a folded paper and sprinkled from it into the 
pot about half a drachm of what looked like yellow eye 
powder. And when Hasan had blown upon this for a 
time all the contents of the crucible became one lump of 

Hasan of Bass or ah 127 

gold of finest quality. Then the Persian bade him carry- 
it into the market-place and sell it. He took it into 
the market, and there they rubbed it upon the touchstone 
and found it pure gold, and the merchants bought it 
from them for fifteen thousand dirhams. 

So Hasan rejoiced and took a metal mortar and 
returned to the shop and laid it before the Persian and 
said, " Let us put this in the fire and make of it lumps of 
gold." The Persian laughed and said, " My son, have 
the J inns made thee mad that thou wouldest go down 
into the market with two ingots of gold in one day ? 
People will say these men practise alchemy, and the judges 
will hear of us, and we shall lose our lives. If thou 
wouldst learn this mystery let us go to thy house." 

When they came to Hasans house he brought out 
food and set it before the Persian, saying, " Eat, my 
lord, that between us there may be bread and salt." 
The Persian replied with a smile, " True, my son, yet what 
virtue hath bread and salt?" And after they had eaten 
the Persian bade him prepare the crucible once more, 
and while he was at work the Persian said: "O 
Hasan, I have a daughter whose like never have eyes 
beheld for beauty and perfect grace I will marry her to 
none but thee." And while he was saying this he took 
from his turban a piece of Bhang, which if an elephant 
smelt he would sleep from night to night, cutting a bit 
off and putting it in a piece of sweetmeat. And he gave 
it to Hasan, who took it unknowing, and hardly had he 
swallowed it when he fell down and was lost to the 
world. Whereupon the Persian cried: "Thou hast 

128 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

fallen into my snares, O gallows bird, thou Arab dog! 
This many a year have I sought thee, and now have I 
found thee, O Hasan. 1 ' 

So he pinioned Hasan and placed him in an empty 
chest, and summoning a porter had him carried down to 
the harbour and placed upon a vessel at anchor there. 
And when they were far out at sea he opened the chest, 
and took out the young man and made him snuff up 
vinegar, and blew a powder into his nostrils. Then 
Hasan sneezed and opened his eyes, and found himself 
at sea aboard a vessel in full sail. Then he said to the 
Persian, " O my father, what of the covenant of bread 
and salt that was made betwixt thee and me ? " But the 
Persian, whose name was Barham the Fire Worshipper, 
replied : " O dog, does the like of me know of the bond 
of bread and. salt? Of youths like thee I have slain a 
thousand save one, and thou shalt make up the thousand 
unless thou do sacrifice to fire." But Hasan refused, and 
Barham caused his slaves to beat him with a hide whip 
of plaited thongs. 

And after they had sailed upon the sea for three 
months and a day, the Persian loosed Hasan from his 
bonds and clad him in goodly clothes, and made excuses to 
him, and promised to teach him the craft, and restore him 
to his native land. And Hasan said : " How can I ever 
rely upon thee again ? " To which Barham answered : 
" O my son, but for sin there were no pardon. Indeed, 
I did all these things to thee but to try thy patience." Then 
said Hasan to Barham : " O Master, whither goest thou ? " 
Then the Fire Worshipper replied : " I am bound for 

Hasan of Bassorah 129 

the Mountain of Clouds, where is the elixir which we 
use in alchemy." And he swore by the Fire and the 
Light, he had no longer cause to fear him. Then 
Hasans heart was set at ease, and they ceased not sailing 
till the ship came to anchor off a long coast of many- 
coloured pebbles, white, and yellow, and sky-blue and 
black, and every other hue. And the Fire Worshipper 
sprang up and said : " O Hasan, come, let us go 
ashore." And they landed and tramped inland till they 
were out of sight of the ship, when Barham sat down, and 
taking from his pocket a kettledrum of copper, and a 
silken strap worked in gold, beat the drum with the 
strap till there arose a cloud of dust from the further side 
of the desert. Presently the dust lifted, and behold 
there were three dromedaries, one for Barham, one for 
Hasan, and on the other they placed their food and 
baggage. And they fared on these for seven days, and on 
the eighth the Fire Worshipper said : " O Hasan, what 
seest thou ? " And Hasan said : " I see clouds and mist 
from east and west." And Barham answered : "That is 
neither clouds nor mist, but a vast and lofty mountain on 
which the clouds split : it is for that I have brought thee 
thither." And they ceased not faring till they came to 
the foot of the mountain, where they halted. And 
Hasan saw a palace on it and asked Barham : " What is 
yonder palace ? " And Barham replied : " It is an 
abode of the J inns, and the Ghouls, and the Satans ; 
there dwells a foe of mine." 

Then they dismounted, and Barham opened a bag, 
and took a handmill and some wheat, ground the grain, 


130 The Book of JVonder Voyages 

and kneaded three round cakes. Then he took out a 
big skin, and said to Hasan : " Lie down on this skin 
and I will sew thee up therein. But the rukhs will 
come to thee and carry thee up to the top of the 


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Ik/ r 

mountain. Take this knife with thee, and when the 
birds have done flying and have set thee down, slit the 
skin open and come forth. Then the birds will take 
fright at thee and fly away ; and thou shalt look down 

Hasan of Bassorah 131 

from the top of the mountain and speak to me and do 
what I bid thee." 

And it was as he said. But as soon as Hasan felt 
himself on the ground he slit the skin and called out to 
the Fire Worshipper, who danced for joy when he heard 
him speak, and called out: " What is there behind thee?" 
And Hasan saw many rotten bones and much wood, and 
told it to Barham, who said to him : " This is what we 
need. Make six bundles of the wood and throw them 
down to me, for out of this wood do we do alchemy." 
So Hasan threw him the six bundles. And when he 
had them he called out to Hasan: " Thou gallows bird, I 
have all I wish of thee. Dwell there above, or throw 
thyself down, as thou wilt." So saying he left him ; and 
Hasan knew that he had played the traitor with him. 
Then he looked about him and walked to the other side 
of the mountain, where he found the dark blue sea dash- 
ing against the foot of the mountain and turning the 
waves into yeast. So he said the prayers for the dead 
for himself, and cast himself down into the sea. But the 
waves bore him up unhurt and cast him safe ashore, 
where he found himself near the place where he had 
halted with Barham the Fire Worshipper. 

And there he saw the palace wherein the Persian had 
said, " There dwells a foe of mine." So he went up to 
it, and finding the gate open, he entered the portico, 
where he found seated on a bench two girls, like twin 
moons, at play, with a chess-cloth before them. And 
one of them raised her head and cried out for joy, saying : 
" Here is a son of man ; methinks it is the one that 

132 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

Barham the Fire Worshipper brought here this year." 
And Hasan, when he heard this, threw himself at their 
feet, and said: " Yes, ladies, I am indeed that unhappy 
one." Then the younger girl said to her sister: " Bear 
witness, sister, that this is my brother by covenant, and 
I will die for his death and live for his life, joy for his 
joy and mourn for his mourning." So saying, she rose 
and embraced him, and led him to the palace, where she 
brought him royal raiment wherewith to array him. And 
they feasted together, and Hasan told all that had 
befallen him. And when they heard that Barham had 
called their palace "a place of Ghouls and Satans," they 
swore that he should die the foulest death. 

And the sisters told him in return their own history. 
" Indeed we are daughters of a King of the J inns, and 
because he would not have us married, he sought out 
this Castle of the Mountain of Clouds, which was built 
by one of the J inns, that rebelled against Solomon. And 
when he desires to come to us he beats a kettledrum 
and summons his hosts, so that he may ride to us through 
the air. And if we are to visit him, the enchanters come 
and bring us back to him. Now five of our sisters have 
gone hunting in the desert, while we two stop at home 
and prepare the food for them." 

And soon after this the other damsels returned from 
hunting, and bowed and saluted Hasan with the salaam, 
and gave him joy of his safety. So Hasan abode with 
them in all joy, riding to the chase and leading the most 
delightful of lives with them as his sisters. 

Thus passed a whole year till he saw Barham the Fire 

Hasan of Bassorah 133 

Worshipper come back with a young man just as he had 
done with Hasan. Then the seven sisters armed them- 
selves, and slung on their swords, and brought Hasan a 
steed of the best, and weaponed him with goodly wea- 
pons. And they came up to Barham just as he was 
saying to the young man: "Sit thou in this hide." 
Hasan spake to him, saying : " Hold thy hand, 
cursed one ! dog ! traitor ! that hast broken the bond 
of bread and salt." But Barham said: "O Hasan, how 
hast thou escaped? Thou art dearer to me than the 
light of mine eyes." But Hasan stepped up to him and 
smote him between the shoulders, that the sword came 
out brightly gleaming on the other side of his throat. 
Then he took the Fire Worshipper s bag and opened it, 
and taking out the kettledrum struck it with the strap, 
whereupon out came the dromedaries. So he unbound 
the youth and placed him on the camel, and loaded 
another with food and water, and said: " Go thou whither 
thou wilt." 

When the damsels saw Hasan slay the Fire Wor- 
shipper they rejoiced greatly and returned to the palace. 
One day there rose from the desert a cloud of dust, and 
when the Princesses saw this they said to him: " Rise, 
Hasan, run to thy chamber and conceal thyself, but fear 
not, no harm shall befall thee." So he went to his 
chamber and locked the door upon himself, and presently 
the dust opened and showed beneath it a great host like 
the surging sea coming from the King, the father of the 
Princesses. And when they came to the palace they 
told the damsels that their father summoned them to a 

134 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

wedding feast of one of the Kings J inns. And they 
asked, " How long shall we be absent from this place ? " 
And the answer was, " The time to come and to go and 
to stay will be two months." So the Princesses went to 
Hasan and said to him : " We must be away for two 
months, but, in the meanwhile, this house is thy house, 
all the keys of it we leave with thee. But, O our 
brother, by the bond of brotherhood we beseech thee in 
very deed, open not the eighth door." So they bade 
him farewell and fared forth with the troops, leaving 
Hasan alone in the palace. 

And Hasan sorrowed at their departure, nor took he 
any pleasure in the hunt, in his food, or in the gorgeous 
riches and treasures of the palace, by reason of the 
Princesses' absence. Then his heart was fired by think- 
ing of the door they had forbidden him to open, and he 
said within himself: " My sister had never told me not 
to open this door unless there were behind it something 
about which she would have none know. But I will 
open it and find out what it is, even though within were 
sudden death." So he opened the door, but saw no 
treasure therein, only a vaulted, winding staircase of 
Yamani O'lyx at the upper end. This stair he mounted, 
which bought him out upon the terrace-roof of the 
palace, below which were gardens and orchards full of 
trees and fruits, beasts, and birds singing the praises of 
Allah. And he said to himself, "This is what they 
forbade me." And beyond all these delights he beheld 
a surging, billowy sea. He continued to explore the 
palace until he came to a pavilion built of gold and 

Hasan of Bass or ah 135 

silver bricks, jacynth, and emerald, and supported by four 
columns. In the centre thereof was a sitting-room, 
paved and lined with a mosaic of all manner of precious 
stones, rubies, emeralds, balasses, and other sorts of 
jewels ; and in the midst was a basin brimful of water, 
canopied by a trellis-work of sandal-wood and aloes- 
wood, interwreathed with red, gold, and emerald wands 
set with various kinds of jewels and fine pearls as large 
as a pigeons egg. The trellis was covered with a 
climbing vine bearing grapes like rubies, and beside the 
basin was a throne of lignaloes latticed with red gold, 
inlaid with great pearls, many coloured gems of 
every sort and precious minerals. About it the birds 
sang sweetly, and many voices sang to the glory of 
Allah, the Most High ; in short, it was a palace the 
like of which nor Caesar nor Chosroes ever owned. 
And Hasan marvelled and said to himself : " I 
wonder to which of the Kings this palace belongeth, 
or is it Many-Columned I ram whereof they tell, 
for who among mortals can pretend to the like of 
this ? " 

And as Hasan sat and wondered at the beauties of the 
scene around him, he espied ten birds flying towards the 
basin that was in the pavilion, and amongst them was 
one, a marvel of beauty, to whom the nine seemed to do 
service. As he gazed they entered the pavilion and 
perched on the couch, after which each bird opened its 
neck skin, and lo ! it proved to be but a feather garment 
from which issued ten maidens, whose beauty shamed the 
brilliancy of the moon. And they doffed their clothes 

136 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

and plunged into the basin and fell to playing with one 
another. And when Hasan beheld the most beautiful 
maid he fell passionately in love with her, and he knew 
well why the Princesses had forbidden him to open the 
door. And he sat and gazed, and wept for longing 
because of the beauty of the chief damsel, but all the 
while he remained hidden from them. Presently they 
came out of the water and donned their raiment and 
their ornaments. And the chief maiden donned a green 
gown, wherein she surpassed in loveliness all the fair 
ones of the world ; she excelled a palm branch in the 
grace of her bending gait. 

And when the maidens were dressed they sat and 
talked and laughed amongst themselves, but Hasan still 
stood gazing, drowned in the sea of his love. And he 
said to himself: " My sister forbade me open the door, 
for she feared lest I should fall in love with one of 
these damsels. Now, O Hasan, how shalt thou woo 
and win her ? Thou hast cast thyself into a bottomless 
sea, and snared thyself in a net whence there is no 
escape ! I shall die desolate, and none shall know of 
my death." And ever he gazed on the chief damsel, for 
she surpassed all human beings in beauty. Her mouth 
was magical as Solomons seal, her hair blacker than 
the night, her brow bright as the full moon of the 
Feast of Ramazan, her eyes like unto those of a gazelle, 
her nose straight as a cane, her cheeks like blood-red 
anemones of Nu'uman, her lips like coralline, her teeth 
like strung pearls, her neck like an ingot of silver, indeed, 
she was of surpassing beauty and symmetry. 

Hasan of ' Bass or ah 137 

And as Hasan stood watching them, forgetting meat 
and drink, the chief damsel said to her maidens: "O 
Kings daughters, it grows late, our land is afar and we 
weary of this place. Come, then, let us depart to our 
own country." So they redonned their feathered raiment, 
and became birds as before ; thus they flew away with 
the chief lady in their midst. 

As for Hasan, he despaired of their return, and tears 
ran down his cheeks. Then he dragged himself down 
the stairs to his own chamber, where he lay sick, neither 
eating nor drinking, drowned in the sea of his solitude. 
And on the morrow he returned to the pavilion and 
watched for the birds until nightfall : but they came 
not. Again he dragged himself down the stairs to his 
chamber and wept and wailed the livelong night. Nor 
for him was there any rest : he neither ate, drank, nor 
slept : by day he was distracted, by night distressed with 
sleeplessness, drunken with melancholy thought and love- 

Now whilst he was in this distress of mind behold a 
cloud of dust arose from the desert, upon which he ran 
down to hide himself, knowing that it hailed the Prin- 
cesses' return. Soon after the damsels arrived and put 
off their arms and war armour. The youngest stayed 
not to doff her weapons and gear, but went straight to 
Hasan s apartment. Not finding him there she sought 
for him till she came upon him in one of the sleeping 
rooms where he lay, feeble and wasted, his colour changed, 
his eyes sunken for lack of food and for much weeping 
by reason of his love and longing. When she saw him 

138 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

thus she was greatly troubled and knew not what to say. 
Presently she spoke, saying : "Tell me, what aileth thee, 
O my brother, that I may do away with thy sorrow. I 
will be thy ransom." And he told his tale with tears. 

When his sister heard this she marvelled at his elo- 
quence, and said : "O my brother, what hath happened 
to thee that thou speakest with tears ? By our love as 
brother and sister tell me what aileth thee, tell me thy 
secret, nor hide aught of that which hath befallen thee 
during our absence, for I am sorrowful because of thee." 
Hasan sighed, and his tears fell like rain as he said, " I 
fear, O my sister, if I tell thee thou wilt not help me to 
win my wish, but wilt leave me to die in my pain." 
" Nay," she replied, " I will not leave thee, though it 
cost me my life." So he told her all that had happened, 
and how he had conceived a passion for the lady he had 
seen when he had opened the forbidden door. Then 
his sister wept and said: "Be of good cheer, O my 
brother, for though it cost me my life, I will devise 
means by which thou mayest wed her, if such be 
the will of Allah Almighty. But keep the matter 
from my sisters ; tell it them not. If they question 
thee of opening the forbidden door, say * I opened it 
not, but I was troubled at your absence and my loneliness 
in yearning for you ! ' " And he replied, " Yes ; this is 
the right rede." So he kissed her head, and his heart 
was comforted. Then his health and spirits returned to 
him, and he begged for food, which she brought him. 
And when her sisters questioned her concerning him, she 
replied, "His sickness was caused by our leaving him 

Hasan of ' Bass or ah 139 

desolate, for the days we have been absent have seemed 
to him more than a thousand years. Perchance, too, he 
has been thinking of his mother, who may have been 
weeping for him and mourning his loss day and night, 
for when we were with him we were the means of 
diverting his thoughts." And the sisters wept, saying : 
"'Fore Allah, he is not to blame." Then they went to 
salute Hasan, and when they saw how he had changed, 
how wasted and shrunken he had become, they wept for 
very pity and did all in their power to comfort and cheer 
him. Yet his sickness daily increased, at seeing which 
they all wept, especially the youngest Now afterwards 
the Princesses went a-hunting, but the youngest remained 
with Hasan. 

And when the Princesses had departed, the youngest, 
who remained at home, went to Hasan and said : " O my 
brother, show me the place where thou sawest the 
maidens.' Then he rejoiced at her words and tried to 
rise, but could not for weakness. So she took him in 
her arms and carried him to the top of the palace, where 
he showed her the pavilion and the basin of water where 
they had bathed. And she said : " Explain to me, O my 
brother, how they came." Then he described what he 
had seen, and especially the maiden with whom he had 
fallen in love* And as she listened she grew pale, for she 
knew all about the beautiful maiden. So that he asked 
her : " What aileth thee, O my sister, that thou art pale 
and troubled ? " She replied : " O my brother, this 
lady is the daughter of one of the most powerful kings of 
the Jinn. Her father ruleth men and Jinn, and wizards 

140 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

and cohens, and chiefs of tribes and guards and countries 
and cities and islands, and is immensely rich. Our 
father is a Viceroy and one of his vassals, and none can 
avail against him. And he hath given his daughters a 
large tract of country, a years journey in length and 
breadth, girt about with a great, deep river. He hath 
an army of women equal in courage to a thousand of the 
bravest knights, and seven daughters who excel their 
sisters in valour. The maidens who came with the 
lady thou lovest are the ladies of her court, and their 
feather raiment is the handiwork of the Jinn enchanters. 
If thou wouldst wed this queen pay good heed to my 
words. They come to this place on the first day of 
every month, and when thou watchest them beware well 
that they do not see thee or we shall lose our lives. 
When they doff their dress, note which is the feather 
suit of her thou lovest and take it, for it beareth her to 
her country, and in taking it thou hast mastered her. 
But beware lest she take it from thee by her wiles. 
Then her companions will flee, and she will be at thy 
mercy/ ' 

Whereupon Hasan was at ease, and waited till the 
new moon for the coming of the birds. When he espied 
them he hid himself and watched, and when they were 
all playing and laughing in the water, he laid his hand on 
his lady love's feather garment. And when she came to 
put it on and found it not she shrieked and wept, and all 
her ladies shrieked and wept with her. But they were 
obliged to leave her lest they, too, might be deprived of 
their garments, so she was left alone by the pavilion basin. 


Hasan of Bass or ah 141 

And when Hasan heard the beautiful damsel bewail 
her lot, he sprang from his hiding-place and dragged her 
down to his own room, where he threw a silken cloak 
over her and left her weeping. And he went and told 
the youngest Princess, who came in to her and saluted 
her. And the beautiful captive said : " O kings 
daughter, how cometh it that you harbour mortal men 
and disclose to them our case and yours?" And 
Hasan's sister replied : " O kings daughter, this mortal 
is perfect and will do thee no harm, for he loveth thee, 
in sooth, he hath nearly died for love of thee." Then 
she brought her costly raiment, and ate with her, and 
ceased not to plead Hasan's cause. And when she had 
assigned her a chamber in the palace and comforted her, 
she went to Hasan and said : " Arise, go to her, and kiss 
her hands and feet." And Hasan went and kissed her, 
and said : O Princess of fair ones, I took thee only that 
I might be thy bondsman till the day of doom, and I ask 
naught of thee but to take thee to wife after the law of 
Allah. And when thou wilt I will take thee to my 
country, and thou shalt have handmaidens of thine own, 
and my mother shall do thee service." But she answered 
him not. Then he went to the Princesses and for a 
while entertained them, but sorrow overcame him, and 
he wept because of his love for the beautiful maid. 
" What is the reason of thy tears ? Which of us hath 
vexed thee that thou art thus troubled?" asked the 
Princesses. And the youngest said : " He hath caught 
a bird from the air, and would have you help him tame 
her." And to him she said : " Do thou tell them, for I 

142 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

cannot face them with these words." So she related the 
story of his entering the forbidden chamber, of the birds' 
visit to the fountain, of their feathered raiment, of their 
transformation into damsels, of his love for the most 
beautiful of these, and of how he carried her off. 
"Where is she?" they asked. "With him in such a 
chamber," quoth she. " Describe her to us." Upon 
which the youngest Princess gave a glowing description 
of the exquisite charms of the royal captive. Then they 
turned to Hasan, and said : u Show her to us." So he 
led them to the beautiful damsel, to whom they did 
honour, and said : " Indeed, he loveth thee with a 
passionate love, and seeketh thee in marriage, wherefore 
he came to thee in person. And he telleth us he hath 
burnt thy feather raiment, or we had taken it from him." 
Then the wedding ceremony was performed, and the 
bridal feast celebrated as beseemeth kings* daughters. 

And the honeymoon lasted forty days, and was a time 
of joy and feasting and delight, and the kings daughter 
became reconciled, and forgot her kith and kin. And at 
the end of the forty days Hasan dreamt a dream concern- 
ing his mother, that she was wasted and worn through 
bitterly bewailing her loss of him, and that she as it were 
spoke to him, saying: "O my son, Hasan, how is it 
thou livest thy life of ease and forgettest me ? I have 
made thee a tomb in my house that I may never forget 
thee. Would to heaven that I knew if I should live to 
see thee ! " Then he awoke weeping, for he was very 
sorrowful. And his wife said to him : " What aileth 
thee, O my lord ? " Then he moaned and groaned, 

Hasan of Bass or ah 143 

and told her his dream. This she repeated to the Prin- 
cesses, who had pity on him, and said : " Do as thou 
wilt, for it behoveth thee to visit thy mother : but see 
thou visit us, though it be only once a year." So he 
agreed to depart, and they made him and his bride ready 
for the voyage, and gave them raiment and jewels, and 
five-and-twenty chests of gold and fifty of silver. Then 
they beat the magic kettledrum so that the dromedaries 
appeared on all sides. And the youngest sister said : 
"If aught grieve thee, beat the kettledrum and return 
to us on the dromedaries." And when they had gone a 
little way with him they returned home sorrowing, 
especially the youngest sister, who wept for him night 
and day. 

When Hasan with his wife reached Bassorah he went 
straight to his mother s house and was there received by 
her with great joy, for she had mourned him bitterly and 
was even weeping and wailing for him when he knocked 
at her door. Then Hasan told her all the story of his 
adventures, so that she wondered greatly and blessed 
Allah for having brought him back in safety. And she 
marvelled exceedingly at the beauty of his wife, whom 
she cheered and comforted and welcomed as a daughter. 

Now that they had become so rich his mother sug- 
gested that it would be well to leave Bassorah, where 
they might be accused of having obtained their wealth 
by means of alchemy. So they left that city and went 
to dwell at Bagdad, where they lived magnificently, with 
servants and attendants and a little black boy for the house. 
And he abode with his wife in all solace and delight for 

144 ^ e B°°k of Wonder Voyages 

three years, during which time she bore him two sons, 
one of whom he named Nasir and the other Mansur. 

Then he began to think of his sisters, the Princesses, 
and of how good they had been to him, and helped him 
to obtain his desire. So he decided to visit them, and 
for that purpose went out and bought costly stuffs, 
trinkets, and fruit confections such as they had never 
seen. And he told his mother of his intent and gave 
her strict injunctions to watch over his wife, saying : 
" Suffer her not to go out of the door, nor to look out 
of the window, nor over the wall, for if aught of evil 
befell her I should slay myself for her sake. Here is 
her feather dress in a chest underground ; watch over it 
lest she find it and take it, for then she would fly away 
with her children, and I should never hear of her again." 

Now, as Fate would have it, his wife heard what he 
said to his mother, but neither of them knew thereof. 
So Hasan beat the kettledrum and mounted the camels 
and travelled for ten days over hills, and valleys, and 
plains, and wastes until he reached the Princesses' 
palace. And they rejoiced greatly to see him. And he 
abode with them three months, feasting and merrymaking, 
hunting and sporting. 

As for his wife, she remained with his mother two 
days, and on the third said : " Have I lived with him 
three years, and shall I never be allowed to go to the 
bath?" And the mother answered : " O my daughter, 
here we are strangers, and thy husband is abroad, but 
I will heat thee water and wash thy head in the 
Hammam-bath which is in the house." Then she 

Hasan of * Bass or ah 145 

wept and bewailed her lot, so that Hasan's mother 
let her have her way, and she went to the bath with her 
two little sons. And while she was at the bath even the 
passing women of the city stopped to gaze upon her 
beauty, so that the place was thronged with spectators. 
Now, it chanced that among those present was Tohfah 
the Lutanist, a slave-girl of Harun-al-Raschid, the Com- 
mander of the Faithful. So struck was she by the lady's 
marvellous beauty, that she ceased not to gaze upon her, 
and after the bath went out with her and followed her 
till she saw where she dwelt. Then she returned to the 
Caliph's palace and presented herself before Lady 
Zubaydah, who said, " O Tohfah, why hast thou tarried 
in the Hammam ? " She replied, " O, my lady, I have 
seen a marvel, never saw I its like among men or 
women." " What was that?" asked Zubaydah. " O, 
my lady, I saw a damsel in the bath with her two little 
boys like moons, eye never espied her like, neither hath 
she her peer for beauty in the whole world. Surely, if 
the Commander of the Faithful knew of her he would 
slay her husband, Hasan of Bassorah, and take her from 
him." And Zubaydah cried, "Woe is thee, Tohfah, if 
she be not as thou sayest, for then, indeed, will I bid 
strike off thy head. But I must needs look on her." 
And she called Masrur, and said to him, " Go to 
the .Wazir's house and bring me the damsel who 
dwelleth there, also her two children and the old woman. 
Haste, and tarry not." And Masrur hastened to Hasan's 
house and knocked at the door. Quoth the old woman, 
4i Who is at the door ? " " Masrur, servant of the Com- 

146 The Book of JVonder Voyages 

mander of the Faithful." So she opened the door and 
he entered and saluted her with the salaam, saying: 
" Lady Zubaydah, queen-wife of the Commander of the 
Faithful, summoncth thee and thy son s wife and children 
to her, for she hath been told of the lady's beauty." 
Saith the old woman, 4< O, my lord Masrur, we are 
foreign folk, and the girls husband, who is away from 
home, hath bidden me not let her go forth in his absence, 
therefore I beseech thee, ask me not this thing." But 
Masrur replied, " O, my lady, there is naught to fear 
therein or I would not ask it of you. The Lady 
Zubaydah desireth to see her, and after that she may 
return." So Hasan's mother could not gainsay him and 
they all repaired to the palace of the Caliphate and pre- 
sented themselves before Lady Zubaydah. And she 
said to the beautiful damsel, who was veiled, 4< Wilt thou 
not uncover thy face that I may look on it ? " And as 
she did so the Queen and all her court were amazed at 
such marvellous beauty, for all who looked upon her 
became Jinn-mad. And Zubaydah embraced her and 
made her sit by her on the couch. Moreover, she 
bade decorate the palace in her honour and put upon 
her the richest raiment and a necklace of the rarest 
ornaments. And unto her she said, " O liege lady of 
fair ones, what arts knowest thou ? " And she replied, 
M O, my lady, I have a dress of feathers, and if I put it 
on thou wouldst see one of the fairest of fashions and 
wouldst marvel thereat." " Where is this dress of thine ? " 
asked Zubaydah. And the damsel answered, " It is- 
with my husband's mother ; seek it of her." So Zubaydah 

Hasan of Bass or ah 147 

turned to the old woman, " O, my lady, the pilgrimess ! 
O, my mother ! fetch us the feather dress, afterwards thou 
mayest take it back again." But the old woman replied, 
" O, my lady, this damsel is a liar. Hast thou ever seen 
any woman with a feather dress, such belongeth only to 
birds ? " And the damsel said, " As thou livest, O my 
lady, she hath a feather dress of mine. It is in a chest 
buried in a store cupboard in the house." Then 
Zubaydah took from her neck a necklace of jewels worth 
all the treasures of Chosroe and Caesar, and gave it the 
old woman, saying : " O, my mother, I conjure thee by 
thy life take this necklace and fetch us this dress." But 
she sware she had never seen any such dress and knew 
not what the damsel meant. Then Lady Zubaydah 
took the key from her and giving it to Masrur said, 
" Take this key and go to the house, and enter the store 
cupboard there, in the middle of which thou wilt find a 
chest buried. Take the chest out, break it open, and 
bring me the feather dress therein." So he went forth 
as she bade him, and the old woman followed him weep- 
ing. And he took the feather dress from the chest and 
wrapping it in a napkin brought it to Lady Zubaydah, 
who turned it about, marvelling at its beauty. Then 
she gave it to the damsel, saying : " Is this thy dress of 
feathers ? " " Yes, O my lady," replied she, and took it 
joyfully. Then she examined it, and was delighted to 
find it whole, without a feather missing. And she arose 
and came down from her seat, and wrapping herself and 
her sons in the feather dress became a bird, so that 
Zubaydah and all present marvelled. Then she walked 

148 The Book of bonder Voyages 

with a swaying, graceful gait, and danced, and sported, 
and flapped her wings. Then she said, " Is this goodly, 
O my ladies ? " And they replied, " Yes, O Princess 

of the Fair! All thou dost is goodly." Said she, "And 
this, O my mistresses, that I am about to do is better 
yet." Then she spread her wings and flew up with her 
children to the palace dome and perched upon the roof, 
whilst they looked at her wide-eyed, and said, "This is 

Hasan of Bass or ah 149 

indeed, a rare and outlandish fashion ! Never saw we its 
like." Wilt thou not come down to us that we may 
enjoy thy beauty, O fairest of the fair?" said Lady 
Zubaydah. " Far be it from me," she replied, to come 
back to the past." And to Hasan's mother she said, 
" O my lady, O mother of my husband, it grieveth me 
to part from thee. When thy son returneth, and longeth, 
and wearieth after me, tell him to come to me in the 
islands of Wak." Then she took flight with her children 
for her own country. 

But the old woman wept and moaned and fainted away 
for grief. And Lady Zubaydah said : "If thou hadst 
told me that this would happen I would not have gain- 
said thee. And had I known she was of the Flying Jinn 
I would not have allowed her to don the dress. But 
now, words profit nothing, so do thou acquit me of 
offence against thee." " Thou art acquitted," replied the 
old woman shortly. Then she returned home, where she 
pined after her daughter-in-law, her grandchildren, and 
for a sight of her son. And she dug in the house three 
graves, and betook herself to them weeping all whiles of 
the day and watches of the night. 

Now as regards Hasan, he stayed with the Princesses 
three months, after which he bade them farewell. And 
they gave him five loads of gold and the like of silver, 
and one load of victual, and accompanied him on his 
homeward way till he conjured them to return. Then 
each one embraced him and bade him a loving farewell. 

Now when he reached Bagdad and entered his own 
home, he found his mother wasted and worn as thin as a 

150 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

toothpick for excess of mourning and watching and 
weeping, and when he asked her of his wife and children 
she fainted. Thereupon he searched the house, but there 
were no traces of them ; and when he found the chest 
broken and the feather dress missing, he knew that his 
wife had possessed herself of it and flown away with her 
children. Then he returned to his mother and questioned 
her. And she wept and said : " O my son, may Allah 
requite thee their loss ! These are their three tombs." 
Whereupon his anguish was so great that she despaired 
of his life. Then he brandished a stick, and coming to 
his mother said : " Except thou tell me the truth I will 
strike off thy head and kill myself. ,, She replied, " O 
my son, do not such deed, put up thy sword and sit down 
till I tell thee what hath passed." So he put up his 
sword and sat by her side while she recounted all that 
had happened from first to last. And when the story 
was ended Hasan fell down in a faint and remained thus 
to the close of day. And for five days he wept and 
wailed and bemoaned himself, and would take neither 
meat nor drink. And one night he dreamt that he saw 
his wife full of sorrow, repenting for what she had done. 
Thus he lived for a whole month, weeping and heavy 
hearted, wakeful by night and eating little. Then he 
thought he would repair to his sisters afid take counsel 
with them in the matter, so he summoned his drome- 
daries, loading them with costly gifts, and bade his 
mother adieu. 

And when he reached the Palace of the Mountain of 
Clouds, the Princesses rejoiced to see him, but said : "O 

Hasan of ' Bass or ah 151 

our brother, what can ail thee to come again so soon, 
seeing thou wast with us but two months since ? " Then 
he fainted for grief and wept bitterly, and told them 
what had befallen him in his absence, and how his wife 
had taken flight with her children. So they grieved 
for him, and asked what she had said at leave- 
taking. And he repeated word for word what his wife 
had said to his mother : " Tell thy son, when he 
cometh to thee and the nights of severance shall be 
longsome to him, and he craveth reunion and meeting 
to see, and whenas the winds of love and longing shake 
him dolefully, let him fare to me in the islands of Wak." 
When they heard his words they signed to one another 
with their eyes, and shook their heads, and considered 
deeply for awhile ; then they said : 4t There is no Majesty 
and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the 
Great ! Put forth thy hand to Heaven, and when thou 
reach thither, then shalt thou win to thy wife." Where- 
upon Hasan wept bitterly, and the Princesses comforted 
him and exhorted him to patience and prayer, saying : 
"O my brother, be of good cheer, keep thy eyes cool 
and clear and be patient, so shalt thou win thy will : for 
whoso hath patience and waiteth, that he seeketh at- 
taineth." But he still grieved deeply, and abode with 
them a whole year, during which time his eyes could 
never retain their tears. 

Now the sisters had an uncle whose name was Abd 
al-Kaddus, or Slave of the Most Holy ; and he loved the 
eldest exceedingly and was wont to visit her once a year 
and do all she desired. Once he gave her a pouch filled 

152 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

with certain perfumes, saying, "O daughter of my 
brother, if thou be in want of aught or if aught trouble 
thee, or if thou stand in any need, cast off these perfumes 
upon fire naming my name, and I will be with thee and 
will do thy desire." So now the eldest Princess said, 
" Lo, the year is past and my uncle is not come. Bring 
me the firesticks and the perfumes." And the youngest 
Princess arose rejoicing and laid it before her. So she 
opened the box, and taking therefrom some of the 
perfume, cast it on the fire, naming her uncles name. 
Ere it was burnt out a dust cloud appeared at the further 
end of the desert, which presently lifting discovered her 
uncle riding on an elephant. And when he arrived they 
embraced him and welcomed him gladly, saying how 
they had not seen him for more than a twelvemonth. 
They then recalled to his memory how Hasan had slain 
Barham the Magian, and proceeded to relate the story 
of his love for, and marriage of, the Supreme Kings 
daughter, with all the painful results that followed. 

When Abd al-Kaddus heard this he shook his head 
and bit his forefinger, and began to make marks on the 
earth with his finger-tips, after which he looked right 
and left, and shook his head a third time, whilst Hasan 
watched him from where he was hidden. Then said the 
Princesses, " Return us some answer, for our hearts are 
rent in sunder." And when he saw them in this 
transport of grief and trouble and mourning, he was 
moved with compassion and said, " Be ye silent ! " 
Then turning to Hasan : <4 O my son, hearten thy heart 
and rejoice in the winning of thy wish : take courage and 

Hasan of * Bass or ah 153 

follow me." So Hasan took leave of the Princesses, and 
followed him rejoicing. Then Abd al-Kaddus took 
Hasan up behind him on the elephant, and they 
journeyed three days and three nights till they came to a 
vast blue mountain, the stones of which were blue and in 
the midst of which was a cavern with a door of Chinese 
iron. Here they dismounted and dismissed the elephant 
Then Abd al-Kaddus went to the door and knocked, 
whereupon it opened and there came out to him a black 
slave, hairless, with brand in right hand, and targe of 
steel in left. When he saw Abd al-Kaddus he threw 
away sword and buckler and came and kissed his hand. 
Thereupon the old man entered the cave with Hasan 
whilst the slave shut the door behind them. It was a 
huge vast place, through which ran an arched corridor ; 
and they walked on for a mile or so, till they came to a 
large open space, whence they made for an angle of the 
mountain, wherein were two immense doors of solid 
brass. And the old man said to Hasan, " Sit at the 
door till I return, and beware lest thou open it and 
enter." Then he went in and shut the door, and was 
absent for a full hour, when he returned leading a black 
stallion, bridled and saddled with velvet housings. And 
when it ran it flew, and when it flew the very dust would 
pursue, and he brought it to Hasan saying : " Mount ! " 
So he mounted and Abd al-Kaddus opened a second 
door, beyond which appeared a vast desert. And the 
two passed through the door into the desert, when the 
old man said : " O my son, take this scroll and go 
whither the steed will carry thee. When thou seest him 

154 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

stop at the door of a cavern like this, alight and throw 
the reins over the saddle-bow and let him go. He will 
enter the cavern, but enter not with him ; tarry at the 
door five days without wearying of waiting. On the 
sixth day will come forth to thee a black Shaykh clad in 
sable, with a long white beard. Kiss his hands, seize 
his skirt, and lay it on thy head, and weep before him, 
till he take pity on thee and ask thee what thou would'st 
have. When he saith : • What is thy want ? ' give him 
this scroll, which he will take without speaking, and go 
in and leave thee. Wait at the door another five days 
without wearying, and on the sixth day expect him. 
And if he come out to thee himself, know that thy wish 
will be won, but if one of his pages come, know that he 
meaneth to kill thee ; and — thus thy story will end." 

Then Abd al-Kaddus tried to dissuade him from 
undertaking the journey, but Hasan would in no way 
agree. And seeing it was useless to try to turn him 
from his purpose he said : " Know, O my son, that the 
Islands of Wak are seven in number, peopled by a 
mighty host of women, and the Inner Isles by 
Satans, Marids, Warlocks, and various tribes of the Jinn. 
And no man once entering this land hath ever returned. 
Will nothing serve thee but that thou must make the 
journey ?" Hasan replied, "Nothing! I only ask thy 
prayers for help and aidance." So the old man knew he 
would not turn from his purpose though it cost him his 
life, so he handed him the scroll, saying : " I have in this 
letter given a strict charge concerning thee to Abu al- 
Ruwaysh, son of Bilkis, daughter of Muin, for Tie is my 

Hasan of Bassorah 155 

Shaykh and my teacher, .and all men and Jinn humble 
themselves to him and stand in awe of him." 

Thus Hasan set out, and his horse flew swifter than 
lightning, and stayed not for ten days until there 

ippeared before him a vast loom, black as night, walling 
he world from east to west. And as he neared it his 
steed neighed under him. whereupon horses many as the 
Irops of rain came rubbing themselves against It. Ant 
rlasan was afraid, for he rode thus until he came to the 
cavern described by Abd al-Kaddus. And on reaching 

156 The Book of Wonder Voyage 

it the steed entered, but Hasan abode without as the old 
man had bidden him. 

And when the appointed five days for waiting were 
expired, out came the Shaykh Abu al-Ruwaysh, a black- 
amoor, clad in black raiment. And Hasan threw himself 
at his feet, and seizing his skirt, laid it on his head, and 
wept before him. "What wantest thou, O my son?" 
quoth the old man. Whereupon he gave him the letter, 
which Abu al-Ruwaysh took and re-entered the cavern 
without making answer. So Hasan sat down and waited 
another five days, weeping and bemoaning himself. And 
on the sixth day the Shaykh came forth clad in white 
raiment and signed him to enter. And the old man 
went with him half a day's journey, till they reached an 
arched doorway with a door of steel. This the Shaykh 
opened, and they entered a vestibule vaulted with onyx 
stones and arabesqued with gold, and they stayed not till 
they came to a great wide hall of marble. In the midst 
was a flower garden containing all manner of flowers and 
fruits, with birds singing on the boughs. And there 
were four daises facing each other, in each a jetting 
fountain, at the corners of which were lions of red gold. 
On each dais was a chair, whereon sat an elder with 
many books before him, and censers of gold containing 
fire and perfumes, and before each elder were students 
who read the books to him. 

Now when the two entered the elders rose and did 
them honour ; whereupon Abu al-Ruwaysh signed to 
them to dismiss their scholars, and they did so. Then 
the four arose, and seating themselves before the 

Hasan of Bass or ah 157 

Shaykh, asked him of the case of Hasan. Then Hasan 
told them all that had befallen him from first to last, and 
the Shaykh begged them to help him to recover his wife 
and children. Then Abu al-Ruwaysh wrote a letter, 
which he gave to Hasan with a pouch of perfumed 
leather containing incense and fire sticks, saying : 
" Whenas thou fallest into any strait, burn a little of the 
incense and name my name, whereupon I will be with 
thee and save thee from thy stress." Then he bade 
them fetch him an I frit of the Flying Jinn, and when it 
appeared, he whispered something in the ear of the fire- 
drake, whereat the I frit shook his head, and answered : 
" I accept, O elder of elders ! " And Abu al-Ruwaysh 
said to Hasan : " Mount the shoulders of this I frit, 
Dahnash the Flyer, but when he heaveth thee heaven- 
wards, and thou hearest the angels glorifying God, have 
a care lest thou do the like, or thou and he will both 
perish." And the old man continued : " O Hasan, after 
faring with thee all day, to-morrow at peep of dawn he 
will set thee down in a land white like unto camphor, 
whereupon walk ten days by thyself till thou come to the 
gate of a city. This enter and inquire for the King, 
and when thou comest to his presence, salute him with 
the salaam and kiss his hand, then give him this scroll 
and consider well whatso he shall counsel thee." Hasan 
replied: "To hear is to obey," and mounted the 
Flyer s back. Thus he travelled till at dawn the next 
day, when he was set down in a land white as camphor. 
There he followed the Shaykh' s directions, and inquired 
for the King, whose name was Hassun, Lord of the Land 

158 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

of Camphor. And being admitted into his presence, 
Hasan gave the letter into his hands. While reading it 
the King shook his head awhile, and then said : " O 
Hasan, thou comest to me, seeking to enter the Islands 
of Wak. I would send thee thither this very day, but 
that by the way are many perils and wolds full of terrors, 
yet have patience and naught save fair shall befall thee. 
Presently there will come to us ships from the Islands of 
Wak, and the first that shall arrive I will send thee 
aboard her, and give thee in charge to the sailors, who 
will bear thee thither. As soon as thou comest ashore, 
thou wilt see a multitude of wooden benches about the 
beach : choose thee one, and crouch under it and stir 
not. When night sets in, thou wilt see an army of 
women flocking about the goods landed from the ship, 
and one will sit down on the bench under which thou art 
hiding. Wherefore put forth thy hand and take hold of 
her and implore her protection. If she give thee pro- 
tection, thou wilt regain thy wife and children ; if not, 
mourn for thyself, and give up all hope of life." 

And Hasan waited three whole months for the coming 
of the ship. And at the end of that time the King sent 
for him, and presenting him with costly gifts, summoned 
the captain, saying! "Take this youth with thee so that 
none may know of him save thee, and carry him to the 
Islands of Wak." So the captain laid him in a chest 
and bore him aboard, and none doubted but that the 
chest contained merchandise. 

And at the end of ten days Hasan was set ashore, and 
as he walked up the beach he saw wooden benches with- 

Hasan of * Bass or ah 159 

out number, and hid under one till nightfall. Then there 
came many women armed with hauberks, coats of mail, 
and drawn swords, who busied themselves with the 
merchandise from the ships. And one seated herself on 
the bench under which Hasan crouched, whereupon he 
took hold of the hem of her garment and did as the 
Shaykh had bidden him. And her heart inclined to him, 
for she knew he had not come to that place save for a 
grave matter. So she said : "Be of good cheer, keep 
thine eyes cool and clear, take courage and return to thy 
hiding-place till the coming night, and Allah shall do as 
he will." 

And the next night the merchant-woman with whom 
he had taken refuge came up to him and gave him a 
habergeon and a helmet, a spear, a sword, and a gilded 
girdle, and bade him don them, and stay where she left 
him for fear of the troops. 

And as Hasan sat upon the bench, behold there came 
up an army of women. So he arose, and mingling with 
them, became as one of them. A little before daybreak 
they set out and marched to their camp, where they 
dispersed each to her tent. And Hasan followed one of 
them, and lo ! it was her for whose protection he had 
prayed. When she entered she threw down her arms 
and doffed her veil, and Hasan saw her to be a grizzled 
old woman, with pock-marked face and without teeth or 
eyebrows. And she questioned him of his case, and 
promised him her safeguard, saying, " Have no fear 
whatsoever." So he told her his tale from first to last. 
And she said, " Glory be to God, who hath made thee 

1 60 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

appeal to me, for hadst thou appealed to any other thou 
would'st have lost thy life. But know, O my son, thy 
wife is not here, but in the seventh of the Islands of 
Wak, and between us and it is seven months' journey. 
From here we go to an island called the Land of Birds, 
wherein, for the loud crying of the birds and the flapping 
of their wings, one cannot hear other speak. From this 
country we come to another, the Land of Wild Beasts, 
where for roaring of lions, howling of wolves, laughing of 
hyaenas, and crying of other beasts of prey, we shall 
hear naught. The next is the Land of the Jann, where 
our eyes are blinded by the fires, the sparks and smoke 
from their mouths, and our ears deafened by their groan- 
ing. And after this we come to a huge mountain and 
running river close to the Isles of Wak. And on the 
bank of the river is another mountain, called Mount 
Wak, named thus by reason of a tree that bears fruits 
like heads of the sons of Adam." 

Then the old woman beat the kettle-drums for depar- 
ture, and the army set out. And they journeyed through 
the terrible lands she had spoken of until they came to 
the river, and set down their loads at the foot of the huge 
mountain. And the old woman set Hasan a couch of 
alabaster, inlaid with pearls and jewels and nuggets of 
red gold. And he sat down thereon, and bound his 
face with a kerchief that discovered naught of him but 
his eyes. And the old woman bade him watch the 
women as they went to bathe, to discover whether his 
wife were among them. And although the maids were 
beautiful to look upon, and one of them exceeding fair, 

Hasan of * Bass or ah 161 

reminding him much of her he had come to seek, 
yet was she not among them. And at the old dame's 
request he gave her a description of his wife, 
whereupon she made answer, " O Hasan, would 
to heaven I had never known thee! This woman is 
none other than the eldest daughter of the Supreme 
King, she who ruleth over all the Islands of Wak. It is 
impossible for thee to obtain her, as between her and 
thee the distance is as that between earth and heaven. 
So return whence thou earnest lest our lives be lost." 
And Hasan wept sore, and bemoaned himself and 
despaired of life. And Shawahi said, " O my son, tell 
me which of the maidens pleaseth thee and I will give 
her thee instead of thy wife, and thou canst say that thy 
wife and children are dead, for if thou fall into the King's 
hand I have no means of delivering thee." Then Hasan 
wept till he swooned away, and Shawahi sprinkled water 
on his face till he revived. And she was sorry for him, 
and Allah planted the seed of affection for him in her 
heart, and she comforted him, saying, " Be of good 
cheer, and keep thine eyes cool and clear, and put away 
trouble from thy thought, for I will risk my life for thee 
until thou attain thine aim or I die." 

Now the Queen of the Island wherein they dwelt was 
Nur al-Huda, eldest daughter of the Supreme King, and 
she ruled over all the lands and Islands of Wak. So 
when the ancient dame saw Hasan weary with his 
longing, she repaired to the palace and going to the 
Queen Nur al-Huda, kissed ground before her, for she 
had a claim in her favour because she had reared the 

1 62 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

King's daughters, and was had in high honour and 
consideration with them and the King. Nur al-Huda 
rose to her as she entered, and embracing her seated her 
by her side, and asked her of her journey. And the 
dame replied, "O Queen of the Age and the Time, I 
have a favour to crave of thee and I fain would discover 
it to thee, that thou mayest help me to accomplish it, 
and but for my confidence that thou wilt not gainsay me, 
therein I would not expose it to thee." And the Queen 
asked : " What is thy need ? Expound it to me and I 
will accomplish it to thee, for I and my kingdom and 
troops are all at thy command." Thereupon the old 
woman fell down before her, and acquainted her with the 
whole of Hasan's case. And the Queen was exceeding 
wroth, and said to Shawahi, " O ill-omened beldam, art 
thou come to such a pass that thou carriest men with 
thee into the Islands of Wak? But for thy claim on me 
I would make both him and thee die the foulest of 
deaths. Go and bring him hither that I may see him." 
So the old woman went to Hasan and said : " Rise, 
speak with the Queen, O wight, whose last hour is at 
hand." And when he came in the Queens presence, he 
kissed ground before her, and saluted her with the 
salaam. And the Queen bade the old woman ask him 
questions that she might hear his answers. Thus she 
heard from his own lips the story of what had befallen 
him. And when he quoted the parting words of his wife, 
in which she intimated that if he longed for her he 
should come to the Islands of Wak for her, the Queen 
shook her head and said : u She would not have spoken 

Hasan of Bass or ah 163 

thus, if she had not desired thee, nor acquainted thee 
with her abiding place." And Hasan said : " O mistress 
of Kings and asylum of prince and pauper, oppress me 
not, but have compassion on me and aid me to regain 
my wife and children." And the Queen replied, " I 
have compassion on thee, and am resolved to show thee 
in review all the maidens in the city and in the 
provinces. If thou discover among them thy wife I will 
deliver her to thee, but if thou know her not, I will put 
thee to death and crucify thee over the old woman's 
door." And the Queen commanded that all the maidens 
in the Island should be brought before her, and that they 
should pass before Hasan hundred after hundred, but he 
found not his wife amongst them. And the Queen was 
enraged and said : " Take him along, face to earth, and 
cut off his head." So they threw him down and 
dragged him along, and with bared brands awaited the 
royal permission. But the old woman kneeled before 
the Queen and said : " Verily he hath entered our land, 
and eaten of our meat, wherefore he hath a claim upon 
us, the more especially since I promised him to bring 
him in company with thee ; and thou knowest that 
parting is a grievous ill and severance hath power to kill, 
especially separation from children. Now he hath seen 
all our women save only thyself, so do thou show him 
thy face." The Queen smiled and said : " How can he 
be my husband and have had children by me, that I 
should show him my face?" Then she made them 
bring Hasan before her, and unveiled her face, which 
when he saw he cried out with a great cry and fell down 

1 64 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

fainting. And when he came to himself he looked on 
the Queen's face, and cried out with a great cry, for 
stress whereof the palace was like to fall upon all therein. 
And he said : "In very sooth this Queen is either my 
wife or else the likest of all folk to my wife." And 
when Nur al-Huda heard this she said : "This stranger 
is either Jinn-mad or out of his mind, for he saith I am 
his wife," and she laughed, for she was unmarried. Then 
she asked: " What is it in thy wife that resembleth me?" 
And Hasan replied, " All that is in thee of beauty and 
loveliness, elegance and amorous grace. Thou art her 
very self in thy way of speaking, in the fairness of thy 
favour, and the brilliancy of thy brow." And the Queen 
was flattered, and said to Shawahi, " Carry him back to 
the place where he tarried with thee till I examine into 
this affair, for he is a manly man, and forgotteth not 
friend or lover." Then she bade Shawahi haste to the 
abode of her youngest sister, Manar al-Sana, and to tell 
her to clothe her two sons in the coats of mail their aunt 
had made them, and send them to her, and after securing 
the children, to say to Manar, " Thy sister inviteth thee 
to visit her. And," continued the Oueen, " I swear 
that if my sister prove to be his wife, I will not hinder 
him from taking her and the children to his own 

Then the old woman armed herself, and taking with 
her a thousand weaponed horsemen journeyed to the city 
where dwelt Lady Manar al-Sana. And on reaching 
the city she went in to the Princess and gave her the 
Queens message. And the Princess said, "Verily, I am 

Hasan of Bass or ah 165 

beholden to my sister, and have failed in my duty in not 
visiting her, but I will do so forthwith." And she made 
ready to go, taking with her rare gifts for her sister. 
Now she was the youngest daughter of the King, who 
had seven children, and when he heard she was about to 
visit his eldest daughter he brought from his treasuries 
meat and drink and money and jewels and rarities which 
beggar description. But the old woman again presented 
herself and said, "Thy sister, Queen Nur al-Huda, 
biddeth thee clothe thy two sons in the coats of mail she 
made for them and send them to her by me." And the 
Princess was troubled and said, " O mother, I tremble 
when thou namest my children, for from the time of their 
birth none hath looked on their faces, neither Jinn, nor 
man, nor woman." And Shawahi replied, " Dost thou 
fear for them from thy sister? Indeed, the Queen would 
be wroth with thee if thou disobeyed her. And, O my 
daughter, thou knowest my tenderness and love for thee 
and thy children. I will take them under my care, so be 
of cheerful heart and send them her." So she equipped 
her little sons and clad them in the coats of mail and 
delivered them to the old woman, who took them and 
sped on her way like a bird by another road than that 
the Princess would travel. So she brought them into 
the Queen s presence, who rejoiced greatly and embraced 
them, and seated them, one on the right side and the 
other on the left. Then she bid them summon Hasan. 
But Shawahi said, 4I If I bring him wilt thou reunite him 
with his children ? Or if they prove not his wilt thou 
pardon him and restore him to his own country ? " And 

1 66 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

the Queen was furious and replied, "This shall never be; 
no, never ; for if they be not his children I will slay him 
and strike off his neck with my own hand." Upon which 
the old woman fell down for fear, and Nur al-Huda set 
upon her the Chamberlain and twenty Mamelukes, saying, 
44 Go with this crone and fetch me the youth who is in 
her house." Thus they brought Hasan into the Queens 
presence, where he found his two sons, Nasirand Mansur 
sitting in her lap while she played and made merry with 
them. And as soon as his eyes fell on them he gave a 
great cry and fell down fainting for excess of joy at the 
sight of them. And they also knew him, and freed 
themselves from the Queen's lap and put their arms round 
Hasan's neck and said to him, " O our father ! " And all 
present wept for pity and tenderness. But Nur al-Huda 
was wroth beyond measure. And she cried out saying, 
4i Arise ! fly for thy life. But that I swore no evil should 
betide thee if thy tale proved true, I would slay thee 
with mine own hand." So Hasan departed from her 
presence, and, giving himself up for lost, wept and re- 
pented of having come to these lands. 

But as regards his wife, Manar al-Sana, when she was 
about to depart on her journey, the King, her father, sent 
requesting that she would first visit him. So she rose 
and repaired to his presence, when he said unto her, " O 
my daughter, I have had a dream which maketh me fear 
that sorrow will betide thee where thou goest." And 
she replied, " What didst thou see in thy dream, O my 
father?" " I dreamt," said he, "that I entered a secret 
hoard where was great store of moneys, jewels, jacinths, 

Hasan of Bass or ah 167 

and other riches. But naught pleased me save seven 
bezels, which were the finest things there. And 1 chose 
the smallest of the seven, for it was the finest and most 
lustrous. And as I came out at the door, a bird 
from a far land, snatched it out of my hand and re- 


turned it whence it came. At once on awaking I sum- 
moned the interpreters and expounders of dreams, who 

said unto me ..." Thou hast seven daughters, and 
wilt lose the youngest, who will be taken from thee 
without thy will. Now, my daughter, thou art my 
youngest and dearest, but I know not what may befall 
thee, so I beseech thee leave me not, but return to the 

1 68 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

palace." But she feared for her children and replied, 
" O King, my sister hath made ready for me an enter- 
tainment and awaiteth my coming ; for these four years 
she hath not seen me, if I go not she will be angry. 
Besides, no stranger can gain access to the Islands of 
Wak, for he would be drowned in the seas of destruc- 
tion." So she ceased not to persuade him till he gave 
her leave to depart, at the same time bidding her not 
remain longer than two days. 

And when she arrived at her sister s palace the children 
ran to her weeping and crying, " O our father!" And 
she kissed them and put her arms about them, saying, 
" What ! Have you seen your sire at this time ? Would 
the hour had never been in which I left him. If I knew 
him to be in the house of the world I would carry you to 
him." And when her sister saw this she saluted her not, 
but said, " Whence hadst thou these children ? Hast 
thou married unbeknown to thy sire ? Or are they not 
legally thy children ? " Then she bade her guards seize 
her, and pinion her elbows and shackle her with shackles 
of iron. And she beat her unmercifully and hanged her 
up by the hair, after which she cast her in prison and 
wrote the King, her father, acquainting him with the 
whole of her case. Then she delivered the letter to a 
courier and he carried it to the King, who, when he read 
it, was exceedingly angry with his daughter Manar and 
wrote to Xur al-Huda, saying, " I commit her case to 
thee, and give thee command over her life ; if the matter 
be as thou sayest kill her without consulting me." And 
when the Queen had read her father s letter she sent for 

Hasan of Bassorah 169 

Manar and made her stand in her presence humiliated 
and abashed. And Nur al-Huda continued to treat her 
sister cruelly, binding her with cords to a ladder of wood 
and beating her with a palm stick and with thongs till 
her charms were wasted for excess of beating, nor would 
she hearken to her tears and piteous cries for mercy. 
And when Shawahi saw this she wept and cursed the 
Queen, for which she was seized and beaten and turned 
out of the palace. But as for Hasan he wandered lonely 
and sad by the riverside, albeit he felt that deliverance 
from trouble was at hand and reunion with those he 

Now as he walked he came upon two little boys, the 
sons of sorcerers, who were quarrelling about a rod of 
copper graven with talismans, and a skull cap of leather 
wrought in steel. And Hasan parted them, saying: 
" What are you quarrelling about ? " And they replied : 
" We are brothers-german, and our father was a mighty 
magician. He died and left us this cap and rod. Now 
my brother wants the rod, and so do I, but thou shalt be 
the judge between us." " And what are their pro- 
perties?" asked Hasan. And they replied: " The virtue 
of the cap is that whoso setteth it on his head is con- 
cealed from all men's eyes, nor can any see him while it 
remains on his head. That of the rod is that whoso 
owneth it hath authority over seven tribes of the Jinn, 
and when the possessor thereof smiteth therewith on the 
ground their kings come to do him homage, and all the 
Jinn are at his service." Then Hasan said to the two 
boys : " If ye would have me decide the case, I will take 

170 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

a stone and throw it, and he who first catcheth the stone 
shall have the rod, while the cap remaineth for the one 
who faileth." And they said : "We consent and accept 
this, thy proposal." Then Hasan threw a stone with all 
his might, so that it disappeared from sight. The boys 
ran after it, and when they were at a distance he donned 
the cap to prove the truth of what they had said. When 
they returned they found him not, and the rod and cap, 
too, were both gone. And they began to abuse one 
another and retrace their steps, but as for Hasan, he 
entered the city wearing the cap and bearing the rod, 
and none saw him. And he entered the lodging of 
Shawahi and shook a shelf filled with glass and china 
over her head. And seeing no one, she called out : 
•' Huda hath sent a Satan to torment me, and hath 
tricked me this trick." Upon which Hasan replied : " I 
am no Satan, but Hasan the afflicted." And he raised 
his cap from his head, and appeared to the old woman. 
And she told him all that had befallen his wife, and said : 
44 The Queen repenteth of having let thee go, and hath 
sent one after thee, promising him gold and honour if he 
bring thee back." Then Hasan showed her the rod and 
cap, whereat she rejoiced exceedingly, and said : " O my 
son, don the cap and take the rod in hand and enter 
where thy wife and children are. Smite the earth with 
the rod, saying : * Be ye present, O servants of these 
names ! ' Whereupon the servants of the rod will 
appear, and if there present himself one of the chiefs of 
the tribes, command him whatso thou will." 

So he bade her farewell, and donning the cap and 

Hasan of Bass or ah 171 

taking the rod entered where his wife was. And his 
heart ached for her, for he found her bound to the ladder 
by her hair and almost lifeless. Then he took the cap 
from his head, and the children saw him and cried out, 
44 O, our father ! " And their mother asked them, " What 
remindeth you of your father at this time ? " And she 
thought of her married life with Hasan, and of all that 
had befallen her since, so that she wept bitterly and her 
tears ran down upon the ground. Then Hasan could 
contain himself no longer, and took the cap from his 
head so that his wife saw him and screamed a scream 
that startled all in the palace, and said to him, 44 How 
earnest thou hither ? From the sky hast thou dropped ? 
Or through the earth hast thou come up ? " And Hasan 
answered, <4 O lady of fair ones, I came not save to de- 
liver thee with this rod and this cap." And he told 
her what had befallen him with the two boys, but whilst 
he spake the Queen came up and heard his speech, 
whereupon Hasan donned his cap and was hidden from 
sight. Then she said to the Princess, " O wanton, who 
is thee with whom thou wast talking ? " And Manar 
replied, " Who should talk with me except these chil- 
dren ? " Then the Queen beat her and loosed her and 
carried her to another room, while Hasan followed un- 
seen. And he waited patiently till night came on, when 
he arose and went to her and loosing her kissed her, 
saying : " How long have we wearied for our mother- 
land and for reunion here ? " Then he took the elder 
boy and she the younger, and they went forth from the 
palace. And Allah veiled them with the veil of his 

172 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

protection so that they came safe to the outer gate of the 
Oueen's Seraglio. But finding it locked they despaired 
of escape, and his wife said, " There is no relief for us 
but to kill ourselves and be at rest from this great and 
weary travail." At this moment they heard a voice from 
without the door say, " O my Lady Manar al-Sana I 
will not open to thee and thy husband except ye obey 
me in whatso I shall say to you." And they were silent 
for excess of fright ; when the voice spake again, saying : 
" What aileth you both to be silent and answer me not?" 
And they knew the speaker to be the old woman, 
Shawahi. So they said, " Whatsoever thou biddest us 
we will do." And she replied, " I will not open until 
ye both swear that ye will take me with you, so that 
whatever befalleth you shall befall me, for yonder 
abominable woman treateth me with indignity and tor- 
menteth me on your account." Now recognising her 
they trusted in her and sware an oath such as contented 
her, whereupon she opened the door and they found her 
riding on a Greek jar of red earthenware with a rope 
of palm-fibres about its neck, which rolled under her and 
ran faster than a Najdi colt, and she said to them, 
" Follow me and fear naught, for I know forty modes of 
magic by the least of which I could make this city a 
dashing sea, and ensorcel each damsel therein to a fish, 
and all before dawn." So Hasan and his wife rejoiced, 
making sure of escape. 

And they walked on till they came without the city, 
when Hasan smote the earth with the rod crying: 
44 Ho, ye servants of these names, appear to me and 

Hasan of Bassorab 173 

acquaint me with your conditions." Thereupon the 
earth clave asunder and cm came ten Ifrits, with their 
feet in the earth, and their heads in the clouds, And 
they kissed the earth three times and said. "Adsumusf 



Iff Mm Jz 

■Icre are we at thy service, O our lord and ruler ovc 
s! What dost thou bid us do? If thou wilt we wil 
ry thee up seas and remove mountains from thei 
laces." So Hasan rejoiced and said: "Who are ye 
nd what be your names and your races, and to wha 
ribes do ye belong?" They replied: "We are sever 

174 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

Kings, each ruling over seven tribes of the Jinn, and 
Satans and Marids, flyers and divers, dwellers in 
mountains and wastes and wolds and haunters of the 
seas ; so bid us do whatso thou wilt, for whoso 
possesseth this rod hath dominion over us," And 
Hasan rejoiced exceedingly, as did his wife and the old 
woman. And he said : "I would have you carry me 
forthwith to the city of Bagdad, me and my wife, and 
this honest woman." And they answered: "O our 
lord, we are of the covenant of our lord, Solomon son of 
David, and he made us sware that we would bear none 
of the sons of Adam upon our backs. But we will 
harness the horses of the Jinn and they shall carry thee 
and thy company to thy country." " How far are we 
from Bagdad?" asked Hasan. " Seven years' journey 
for a diligent horseman," they replied. At this Hasan 
marvelled and said: "Then how came I hither in less 
than a year?" And they replied: "Allah softened to 
thee the hearts of his pious servants." And he asked 
again, " When ye have mounted me upon your steeds, in 
how many days will they bring us to Bagdad?" They 
answered : " They will carry you thither under the year, 
but not till ye have endured terrible perils and hardships, 
and horrors, and we cannot promise thee safety." 

Then they struck the ground with their feet, whereupon 
it opened, and they disappeared within, and were absent 
awhile, after which they reappeared with three horses, 
saddled and bridled, and on each saddle-bow a pair of 
saddle-bags, with a leathern bottle of water in one 
pocket and the other full of food. So Hasan mounted 

Hasan of Bassorah 175 

one steed and took a child before him, whilst his wife 
mounted a second and took the other child before her, 
and the old woman bestrode the third. And they rode 
on all through the night And as they rode, Hasan 
caught sight of a black object, which as he drew nearer 
turned out to be an I frit, with a head like a huge dome, 
tusks like grapnels, jaws like a lane, nostrils like ewers, 
ears like leathern targes, a mouth like a cave, teeth like 
pillars of stone, hands like winnowing forks and legs like 
masts ; his head was in the clouds and his feet in the 
earth he had plowed. And he said to Hasan, " Fear 
not, I wish to accompany you and be your guide till you 
leave the Wak Islands. Be of good cheer, for I am a 
Moslem even as ye." So they followed the Ifrit and 
made merry, and Hasan told his wife all that had 
befallen him while she related all she had seen and 

Thus they rode till the thirty-first day, when there 
arose before them a dust-cloud that walled the world and 
darkened the day. And the old woman said to Hasan : 
"This is the army of the Wak Islands that hath 
overtaken us ; they will lay violent hands upon us. 
Strike the earth with the rod." And the seven Kings 
presented themselves, saying, " Fear not, neither grieve. 
Ascend the mountain, thou and thy wife and children 
and she who is with thee, and leave us to deal with 
them. We know you are in the right and they in the 
wrong." So they dismissed their horses and ascended 
the mountain side. 

Now a great battle was fought wherein the seven 

176 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

Kings of the J inns, and their armies defeated Queen 
Nur al-Huda and her armies, slaying many and taking 
her and the powerful men of her realm prisoner. And 
on the morning after the battle the Jinn Kings set before 
Hasan an alabaster throne, inlaid with pearls and jewels, 
and he sat down thereon. Also a throne of ivory plated 
with glittering gold for his wife and the dame, and there 
they judged Queen Nur al-Huda and all the captives. 
And Hasan commanded that all the captives were to be 
slain, and the old woman cried out : " Slay all, and spare 
none." But Princess Manar pleaded for her Sister Nur 
al-Huda and wept over her, so that Hasan gave her into 
her hands, saying, " Do whatso thou wilt." Thereupon 
she bade them loose her sister and all the captives, and 
she went up to her and embraced her, and they all made 
peace together after the goodliest fashion. And Hasan 
dismissed his servants of the rod, and thanked them for 
having helped him against his foes. 

And they passed the night together in converse, and 
on the morrow bade one another farewell. And Shawahi 
departed with Nur al-Huda to the left, while Hasan and 
his wife went to the right. And Hasan and his wife 
rode till they came to a city surrounded with trees and 
streams, and as they rested there they were greeted by 
King Hassun, Lord of the Land of Camphor, and Castle 
of Crystal. And they rejoiced to meet one another and 
Hasan told all that had befallen him. Whereupon the 
King said : " O my son, none ever reached the Islands 
of Wak and returned thence but thou, indeed thy case is 
wondrous. And Hasan with his wife and children 

Hasan of Bass or ah 177 

lodged in the guest house of the palace three days, 
eating and drinking in mirth and merriment, after which 
they sought the King s permission to depart. And the 
King granted it and rode with them ten days, after 
which he bade them farewell. And they journeyed for a 
month, after which they came to the cavern with the 
brass door, out of which the Shaykh Abu al-Ruwaysh 
issued, and saluted Hasan, and gave him joy of his 
safety. And when Hasan told him all that had befallen 
him, the Shaykh replied, " O my son, but for this rod 
and cap, thou hadst never delivered thy wife and 
children." And as they talked together there came a 
knocking at the door, and Abu al-Ruwaysh went and 
found Abu al-Kaddus mounted on his elephant. And he 
embraced Hasan and congratulated him on his safety. 
And Hasan told him everything from first to last until 
he came to the story of the rod and cap, when Abu al- 
Kaddus said : " O my son, thou hast delivered wife and 
children, and hast no further need of the two. Now we 
were the means of thy getting to the Islands of Wak, 
and I have done thee kindness for the sake of my nieces, 
therefore I beg thee give me the rod and Abu al- 
Ruwaysh the cap." And Hasan hung down his head, 
ashamed to say, " I will not give them you," then in his 
mind he thought of how good they had been to him, and 
how if it had not been for them he would not have 
received the rod and cap. So he raised his head and 
answered: "Yes, I will give them you. But, O my 
lords, I fear lest the Supreme King, my wife's father, 
come to me in my own country to fight, and I be unable 


178 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

to repel them for want of the rod and cap." And they 
replied : " Fear not, we will continually succour thee and 
keep watch and ward for thee, and whoso shall come 
against thee from thy wife's father or any other, we will 
send him from thee, therefore be of good cheer, for no 
harm shall come to thee." And the two elders rejoiced 
exceedingly and gave him riches and treasures, beautiful 
beyond description. And Hasan and his wife abode 
with them three days, when they bade them farewell and 
departed for the Land of the Princesses, to which Abu 
al-Kaddus mounted on a mighty big elephant guided 
them by a short cut and easy way. And as they drew 
near the palace, the Princesses came forth to meet them, 
and saluted them and their uncle, who said to them: 
" Behold I have accomplished the need of this, your 
brother Hasan, and have helped him to regain his wife 
and children/ ' So they embraced him and gave him joy 
of his health, and it was a day of feasting with them. 
And the youngest Princess wept bitterly as she embraced 
Hasan, and told him how she had longed and suffered 
for his return. And Hasan told all that had happened 
on his journey from first to last, and said to his youngest 
sister, " I shall never forget all thou hast done for me 
from first to last." 

And Hasan and his wife abode with the Princesses 
ten days, feasting and merry-making, at the end of 
which time they prepared to continue their journey. 
And his sisters made him presents of riches and rarities, 
and bade him a loving farewell. And after journeying 
two months and ten days they came to Bagdad, and 

Hasan of Bass or ah 179 

Hasan repaired to his home by the private gate and 
knocked at the door. 

Now his mother had not ceased to mourn him since 
his departure, but shed tears night and day, and for lack 
of food and sleep had fallen ill. And she heard her 
son's voice, saying, " O mother, mother, Fortune hath 
been kind and hath vouchsafed our reunion." Where- 
upon she went to the door between belief and misbelief, 
and when she saw him and his wife and children she 
cried aloud for excess of joy, and fell to the earth in a 
fainting fit. And when she had recovered and he had 
comforted her, he related all his adventures from begin- 
ning to end. And they passed the night in all pleasure 
and happiness, and on the morrow Hasan donned rich 
apparel and went to the bazaar and bought black slaves 
and slave girls, rich stuffs and ornaments and furniture, 
carpets and costly vessels, and all manner of precious 
things. Moreover, he purchased houses and gardens 
and estates, and abode with his wife and children and 
mother in all joy and happiness till the Destroyer of 
delights and the Severer of societies knocked at their 


The Journeyings of Thorkill and of Eric 
the Far-Travelled 

ONCE there was a King who reigned at 
Drontheim in Norroway. He was 
named Thrond, and he had a son, Eric, 
young and handsome and goodly to see. 
Now it happed at one Yule- Tide there 
was among the guests a certain Thorkill, a swart and 
sturdy man that seemed a seafarer and one accustomed to 
lead men. When the cups had been drunk out and the 
time for telling of tales had come, Thrond called upon 
this Thorkill to say his say first of all men. And he 
spake thus 

Thorkill 's Story of how he Fared to the Glittering 
Plain and to the Halls of Geirrod. 

" If I have aught, Sir King, that can appear new to 
you or please your ears, it is what I passed through in 
my search for Geirrod's Home. For from the days of 
my youth onward I had heard of the mighty stores of 
treasure piled up in that land. Yet was the way thither 

184 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

full of terrors and dangers, and few of mortal men had 
reached it, and still fewer come back from it For 
Geirrods Home, they said, was beyond ocean that lies 
about all land. It was beyond the ken of sun and stars, 
far out in the Realm of Darkness. 

" Now from the time I had first heard of this, I had a 
desire to try and reach that land. It was not for the 
sake of the booty that could be gained, but I hoped for 
the glory that would come from achieving a task hitherto 
untried by men. So I went to King Gorm and told him 
of the land and of my desire to reach it, and asked his 
help to fit out an expedition. 'Who will go with 
Thorkill ? ' asked King Gorm in the Council, and three 
hundred brave men and true said they would go with me, 
and foremost among them was the King himself and 
his trusty archers, Broder and Buchi. Three long 
ships were built for them, each with fifty banks of oars. 
Strongly were they made, as I advised, fitted with many 
knotted cords and with nails close set. And above, they 
were covered with ox hides sewn together, so that pro- 
visions might be kept dry from the salt spray. And so 
we set sail towards the open sea. 

" Now when we came to Halogaland the northern 
breeze died out, and we passed to and fro on the waves 
for many days out of sight of land. Soon even our bread 
gave out, and all we had to keep ourselves alive was a 
little pottage. At last we heard far off a noise as of 
waves beating against the rocks with a sound like thunder. 
We sent a boy of great nimbleness aloft to the masthead 
to look out, and he called down to us that he could see 

jfourneyings of Thorkill and Eric 185 

walls rising out of the sea as if of a fortress. Then we 
cheered all, and turned the prows of the ships where he 
pointed, and gazed with thirsty eyes upon the land as we 
neared it. And when we came close we had to search 
for many hours before we could find an opening in the 
walls of the island. At last we saw a steep path that led 
up to the heights, and anchoring our ships we all began 
to climb the path till we came out upon the higher 
ground above. There we found herds of cattle roaming 
about, and my men were eager to kill them for food. 
But I said, 'Nay, be wary; no men are here, and these 
may, perchance, be sacred to some of the gods : if, there- 
fore, we slay the beasts wantonly we shall rouse the 
anger of the gods and they will not let us depart. Take, 
therefore, no more of these beasts than will be sufficient 
to appease our hunger, and then we must depart/ But my 
men were more eager to fill their bellies than to obey 
orders, especially when they found the cattle easy to 
capture, since they were unaccustomed to sight of men 
and came up to us without fear. So they slew and slew 
till enough had been slaughtered to fill the holds again 
with carcasses of meat. But next night we heard a 
mighty clamour ; huge monsters dashed down upon the 
shore and beset our ships, and one of them, huger than 
the rest, strode over the waters armed with a mighty 
club, and running close up to us, bellowed out : ' You 
shall never sail away till you have atoned for the crime 
you have committed in slaughtering the flock of the gods, 
and unless you make good the loss of the herds by giving 
up one man from each of your ships/ Then I reminded 

1 86 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

the men that I had warned them against their folly, and 
said, 'It is all our own fault. Better lose three than three 
hundred ; let us cast lots for the three and so escape in 
safety/ The men agreed to this; and having cast lots 
threw into the sea the men upon whom the lots had 
fallen, and these were seized upon by the monstetfs, who 
went again up the path, shouting in triumph but leaving 
us in peace. 

" After this, the wind being favourable, we sailed to 
further Permland. It is a land that is always cold, and is 
covered with deep snow which even the summer heat 
cannot melt. It is full of pathless forests ; wheat, barley, 
oats, and such-like grain are but rarely seen, while strange 
beasts, seldom found elsewhere, wander hither and 
thither. The channels of the rivers are covered with 
reefs, which causes the water to flow as a hissing, foam- 
ing flood. Here we brought our ships ashore, and I 
bade my men pitch their tents on the beach, for we were 
now within but short distance of Geirrod's Home. 

* Speak to no one whom ye may meet,' I said to them, 

* for nothing makes these monsters so angry as to have 
strangers say uncivil words to them. It will, therefore, 
be better if you keep silent and let me speak, as I alone 
know the customs and manners of this people/ Now at 
twilight time a man of tremendous size came towards us, 
greeting the sailors by their names. My men were terri- 
fied, but I told them to be of good cheer and welcome 
him warmly, as he was Gudmund, Lord of the Glittering 
Plain, brother of Geirrod and the protector in all dangers 
of men who landed in this place. And when Gudmund 

Journeyings of Thorkill and Eric 187 

asked why no man answered his greeting, I replied that 
they did not know his language, or at least but little of 
it, and so were ashamed of saying anything before him. 
Then Gudmund invited us to be his guests, and took us 
away with him in chariots. As we went forward we saw 
a river and across it a golden bridge. This delighted us 
so that we wanted to cross it. But Gudmund would not 
let us. ' By this river,' said he, ' the world of men is 
divided from the world of monsters. No mortal man 
may cross the Golden Bridge to enter that other world.' 
Now by this time we had reached the Big Mans dwelling, 
but before entering I took my men apart, and warned 
them to behave like men of good counsel amidst the 
divers temptations chance might throw in their way. I 
bid them abstain from the Stranger's food, and partake 
only of their own. Also to sit apart from the people ot 
that land, and have nothing to do with them at their 
banquets. I told them further, that if they ate of the 
Stranger's food they would forget everything they had 
ever known, their homes, their wives and children, all 
the good and beautiful things they had ever seen or heard 
or felt, and would henceforth lead mean wretched lives 
among these terrible monsters. 

"The magnificent hall of Gudmund's palace was 
thronged with guests, and the tables were covered with 
delicate meats and costly wines. Twelve tall, handsome 
sons had he, and as many daughters of surpassing beauty. 
And he led us to our seats and bade his servants bring 
us of the best. But when he saw that I barely tasted 
the food, he was hurt, and reproached me, saying that 

1 8 8 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

such behaviour was discourteous and ill-bred. But I had 
my answer ready, and said : ' It often makes men ill to 
eat food they are not used to ; I am far from being 
ungrateful for your kindness, but am merely taking care 
of my health by eating my own food to which I was 
accustomed. You must not be hurt or consider me 
wanting in courtesy if I act thus for the sake of my own 
health/ Now, when Gudmund saw that his wicked 
designs were foiled, and that he could neither make his 
guests drink his wines nor eat his dainty food, he deter- 
mined to try and persuade them to take the women of 
his household as wives. So he offered the king his 
daughter in marriage, and promised that each of my 
men should marry the woman in the house he liked best 
Many of my men inclined to accept his offer, but I, 
happily, by my advice prevented them from giving way 
to the temptation. Very carefully did I observe my host, 
lest he should have any suspicions about us, and with 
equal care I watched over my men lest they should taste 
the dangerous pleasures he offered them. Four of the 
Danes, who loved eating and drinking and riches more 
than anything on earth or in heaven, accepted the wine 
and the food, and the women of the household as wives. 
But the pleasures maddened them, and they went out of 
their minds, and no longer remembered anything or any 
one whom they had ever known, and utterly forgot their 
homes, their own country, and their past lives. Had they 
controlled themselves they would have equalled the fame 
of Hercules, become braver than giants, and great and 
noble servants of their country. But Gudmund, still 

yourneyings of Thorkill and Eric 189 

intent on having his wicked way, went on to praise the 
beauties and delights of his garden, and did all he could 
to lure the king thither to eat of its fruit. But I privily- 
begged him not to yield, so he excused himself to his host 
by saying that he must hasten on his journey. Then 
Gudmund perceived that I knew his intent, so finding he 
could not work his will, he took us all to the other side 
of the river and left us to finish our journey. 

11 And as we went on, we saw a little way off a gloomy, 
desolate, neglected town ; indeed, it hardly looked like a 
town, but more like a big black cloud sending forth fog 
and mist. Around the battlements were stakes, and upon 
these severed heads of warriors ; moreover, we saw fierce 
dogs watching before the doors to guard the entrance. 
To still their rage I threw them a horn smeared with fat 
to lick. The gates to this strange city were built on 
high, so that we had to climb to them with ladders, and 
even then we found it difficult of access. Inside, the 
town was crowded with murky and misshapen phantoms, 
and it was hard to say whether their shrieking forms were 
more ghastly to the eye or to the ear. All was foul, and 
the smell of the loathsome mud was unbearable. Then 
we found the rocky dwelling which, it was said, Geirrod 
lived in for his palace. A narrow and horrible rift led 
inward, but at the very threshold my men stopped in a 
sort of panic. Seeing they were uncertain what to do, I 
strove to banish their hesitation by encouraging them to 
play the man, advising them to keep a strict watch over 
themselves, lest they be tempted to touch anything in the 
house they were about to enter, of whatsoever kind it 

i go The Book of Wonder Voyages 

might be, and however delightful or pleasant to look at 
Further, I bade them be neither covetous nor fearful; 
neither desire what was pleasant nor dread what was 
awful to look upon, though the place might be filled with 
both that which was delightful and that which was terrible 
' For if you put out your hands to take/ said I, 'they will 
suddenly become bound fast, and you will be unable to 
tear them away from the thing you have touched, and 
they will become knotted up with it, as by bonds that no 
power on earth may untie/ Then I bade them enter in 
order, four at a time. Broder and Buchi first tried to go 
in, the king and I followed them, and the others came 
behind us in ordered ranks. Inside, the house was but a 
ruin, desolate, and filled with a strong and horrible reek 
It seemed to teem with everything that could disgust the 
eye or mind ; the doorposts were begrimed with the soot 
of ages, the walls were plastered with dirt, the roof was 
one mass of spear-heads, numberless snakes crawled 
along the floor, Such an unwonted sight struck terror 
into us, and the smell that filled the palace assailed our 
very brains. Bloodless phantasmal monsters huddled on 
the iron seats, and on the thresholds hideous doorkeepers 
stood at watch. Some of these, armed with clubs lashed 
together, yelled, while others played a gruesome game, 
tossing a goat's hide from one to the other. Here I 
again warned my men, and forbade them attempt to touch 
or take anything. As we went on through the breach in 
the crag, we saw an old man with his body pierced through, 
sitting a little way off on a high seat facing that side of 
the rock which had been broken away. There, too, were 

y ourneyings of Th or kill and Eric 191 

three women, whose bodies were covered with wounds, 
and who seemed to have lost the strength of their back- 
bones. My men wanted to know why all this had hap- 
pened, so I told them how long, long ago the god 
Thor had been wroth with the giants, among whom was 
Geirrod, who had fought with him. So he had hurled a 
right hot iron at the giant, piercing him, and breaking an 
issue through the mountain's side. The women, terrified 
at all this, had tried to take their revenge on the god, 
who broke their bodies by way of punishment. As my 
men were leaving the palace, they saw seven big barrels 
hooped round with golden belts, from which hung large 
silver rings, fastened to them by means of many links. 
Near these was the tusk of a strange beast, tipped at 
both ends with gold. Close by lay a large and beautifully 
chased stag-horn, decorated with costly gems that sent 
forth flashes of glittering light, while beside it was a heavy 
gold bracelet covered with rubies that seemed to send 
forth showers of red flame. One man longed with all his 
heart and soul for this bracelet and laid his hands upon 
it to take it, for he knew not that the brilliant metal could 
do him deadly harm and was full of a poison which would 
cause his death. A second man, unable to control his 
longing, stretched out his trembling hand towards the 
horn, while a third made his way towards the tusk. All 
these things were lovely to look upon, and it seemed as 
if the possession of them would add to ones happiness* 
But when the first man laid his hands upon the bracelet 
it turned into a snake, and pierced his flesh with its 
poisonous tooth ; as the second clutched the horn with 

208 The Book of Wonder Voyages 

spirit. We are often sent into the world in time of need 
to help men, as I have been sent to you." 

" How is this building kept up? It seems to me to 
be hanging in the air." 

14 God holds it. By this you may believe that God 
created all things from nothing." 

Then the angel asked Eric : " Do you wish to stay 
here, or to return to your own country ? " 

44 1 would rather return." 

44 Why do you wish to go back to your own wretched 
native land ? " 

44 That I may tell my friends about my journey and all 
the wonderful things I have seen and heard. If I do not 
return they will think I have died an evil death." 

Then the angel said: " Though the people in your 
land still worship idols, and though the time has not yet 
come when they shall leave their idols and return to God, 
yet it will come, and God in His mercy shall free them. 
You may return to tell of God's greatness, which you 
have seen in Eastern lands. Perhaps they will be more 
ready to believe in God when they hear what you have 
to say. Ten years after you reach home I will visit you, 
as I visited Habakkuk and Daniel, whom I took over 
many lands. I will then bring you to this place, chosen 
of God, that your bones may be guarded here till the 
judgment-day. Remain here for seven days, then take 
with you food for your journey, and return to the 

In the morning, when Eric awoke, he thanked God, 
and did all the angel had told him. We do not know